Audi Traffic Light Recognition Could Save Billions of Gallons of Fuel

There’s a stoplight ahead. Do you slow down to approach the intersection cautiously or speed up to make sure you get through while it is green?

The Audi Online traffic light information system may solve this constant city street conundrum once and for all.

Recently revealed as a prototype in the Audi A6 Saloon, the automaker showed off what its system can do during some test drives in Las Vegas during the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES). While drivers have to guess at the timing of stoplights today, the Audi system can predict when lights will change.

interior Audi Fuel savingInterior of an Audi S6 equipped with Audi Connect, image from Audi

Networking the Traffic Lights

With cars now having on-board computer networks that rival home and office LANs, Audi uses its computer power to connect to a city’s central traffic computer. There it learns the routines of local traffic lights. With that data flowing through its microprocessors, the car coaches the driver to either speed up or slow down as s/he approaches lights.

The system is so intuitive that, according to Audi, if it were deployed across Germany today, it would save some 238 million gallons of gasoline. Along with the fuel savings, Audi says it will cut CO2 emissions as much as 15 percent.

In the event that a driver cannot match the stoplight timing and has to come to a red-light halt, the system shuts down the idling engine to prevent excess gas use. The system then predicts when the light will turn green and restarts the engine approximately five seconds before so that the driver is ready to go at the signal’s change.

Audi Exterior Fuel Saving Audi CES 2014 (Image credit Audi AG)

In addition to hitting the streets in Vegas during CES to cope with fifty sets of traffic lights, Audi is testing the system in Berlin and Verona. The company says that, from a product development point of view, it’s ready to go to market right now; however, Audi is still conducting a detailed U.S. market analysis.

Auto-Parking and Driving

Audi’s stoplight savant system isn’t the only high-tech feature that we’ll be seeing in the showroom. Auto-parking will be big, and soon we should see cars that can drive themselves. The company is developing a version of the Audi A7 Sportback that is able to drive autonomously in moving traffic.

While it may be some time before self-driving cars are commonplace, Audi has another high-tech feature that should be easily accepted by regulators and consumers alike: the Audi Smart Display. It’s an Android tablet that allows drivers to interact with various car controls but can also be removed from the car and used as a standalone portable device.

As the tablet may replace some of those control knobs that so often break, Audi also has plans to push headlight technology into the 21st century with its Sport Quattro Laserlight concept. This system uses a laser beam to illuminate the highway as far as 500 meters in front of the vehicle. The company plans to show it off in June at Le Mans on its R18 e-tron Quattro sports prototype.

When not writing and blogging for HR Owen’s news blog, Gail Watkins spends her spare time attending car shows, races and other events. As a self-proclaimed car fanatic, Gail’s world travels reflect her love of 4 wheeled toys. Gail’s dream is to drive US Historic Route 66 in a Dodge Viper. While Gail appreciates the jazz of sports and luxury cars, she is also a vocal supporter of fuel-efficient vehicles ruling the market. Follow Gail’s travels, dreams and aspirations on Google+.

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