New Audis will detect traffic lights to improve efficiency

If you know in advance when a traffic light will switch from red to green, your driving is more relaxed and efficient. Audi is the first automobile brand to connect the car to the city infrastructure – an important step towards autonomous driving.

In a step towards autonomous driving, Audi has unveiled the Traffic Light Information system that uses live traffic information to help reduce emissions and make driving 'more relaxed'.

This system is the first to connect a car to a city's infrastructure and will be initially available on the Audi A4 and Q7 cars in US specification.

Audi say the system will 'optimise traffic flow, save valuable time and reduce the environmental impact' of the car, as stop-start traffic can significantly increase a car's level of emissions.

Las Vegas is currently the only city with its traffic information being beamed to the vehicles, but in the future more US cities will be incorporated by Audi of America.

This also marks the start of Audi and many North American cities working together to improve their infrastructure to implement Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I) technology, which will help advance autonomous technologies.

TLI's first function is 'Time-to-Green', which displays a countdown on Audi's Virtual Cockpit display to the next green light phase, and it will show whether the car will reach the lights at the current speed limit. The driver can then throttle back in good time to reduce emissions and improve traffic flow.

Audi is already testing this system in Europe, including the German cities of Berlin, Ingolstadt and Garmisch-Partenkirchen, and the Italian city of Verona, but due to a lack of unified data standards across Europe. It will take some time before it is widespread across the continent.

Head of electronics pre-development at Audi AG, Andreas Reich, said: "For the first time, our cars are exchanging data with traffic infrastructure in real time. Drivers can adapt their behaviour to the situation and move through city traffic in a much more relaxed and controlled way.

"We increase energy efficiency when we connect our Audi models to smart cities. Further V2I services will follow, making the car into an interactive mobile device. We see autonomous driving as the end of this development."

Written by Jack Healy