The Audi Traffic Light Recognition System could make waiting for red lights a thing of the past. The System connects to the area's central traffic computer via a wireless internet connection. This reveals the signalling sequence for the vicinity. As the car approaches a light, the system confirms – via the Driver Information System in the instrument cluster – the speed that will enable it to reach the lights on green (say thirty-five miles per-hour). The motorist then – if traffic permits - maintains this speed. After passing through the light the system reveals the speed required to hit the next light on green. Audi estimates that this could reduce a car's emissions up to fifteen percent, as constantly stopping and accelerating burns more fuel than cruising at a constant speed. Furthermore, if the car does hit a red light the display reveals the time to green, e.g. ten seconds. The software is linked to the car's stop/start system so the engine can switch-off automatically at red to save even more fuel. It then re-starts five seconds before the traffic light turns green. This time, of course, is longer than the engine requires to start – but it gives the motorist time to prepare, e.g. by engaging first.
The Audi Traffic Light Recognition System is production ready and – subject to the government legislation that makes its installation worthwhile – could be fitted throughout the manufacturer's new range. This includes saloons such as the A8, convertibles such as the A3 Cabriolet, estates such as the RS4 Avant and four-wheel-drives such as the Q7. The system was recently demonstrated – courtesy of the Audi A6 Saloon - in Las Vegas as part of the Consumer Electronics Show. Testing continues in the city via fifty sets of traffic lights. The manufacturer is also evaluating the system's performance in Italy (Verona). Its testing procedure covers virtually the entire city centre which incorporates approximately sixty sets of traffic lights. Furthermore, Berlin in Germany is playing its part via twenty-five vehicles and more than one-thousand sets of lights. Finally, the manufacturer recently stated that “market launch is currently the subject of intense analysis in the United States”. So, it seems that this concept will soon be widely available and - if it proves to be efficient and popular with drivers – the manufacturer’s competitors will follow suit. 'Vorsprung durch Technik.'