Any hypermiler will tell you that the way you drive your car has a huge impact on how much energy it uses. But these greenfoot drivers haven’t had a car that’s smart enough to tell them about the inner lives of traffic lights. That’s what a prototype system in an Audi A6 Saloon that the German automaker recently tested in Las Vegas can do. Since the car can communicate with local traffic signals and is able to predict when lights will change, the car can help reduce CO2 emissions by up to 15 percent. Further, Audi says that the system could save some 238 million gallons of fuel (900 million liters), if deployed across Germany. We can only imagine what hypermilers could do with this.
We got to drive the Audi Online traffic light information system prototype in January, but we focused more on how the system worked rather than the green aspect. Now that Audi has had a bit more time to crunch the numbers, it has released fuel economy information for the connected car. The key points for the eco-side of things are that the driver is told in the dashboard how fast/slow to go to hit the next green light. This can help prevent unnecessary speeding and or encourage drivers to go a bit faster in order to hit the green, thus preventing idling and wasted time.
The system is too smart to let you idle for long.
Except that Audi Online is too smart to let you idle for long. The Audi connect system can calculate how much longer the light will be red and can access the car’s start-stop capabilities and will fire up the engine “five seconds before the green phase.” That seems like an awful long time in a world where competitors have figured out ways to restart an engine in 0.35 seconds. We’ve asked Audi for an explanation on why this buffer is so lengthy, and will let you know what the reasoning is when we hear back.
Despite the trials in the A6, Audi says the Audi Online traffic system could be integrated into any Audi model, “subject to the necessary government legislation.” Aside from the Sin City tests, Audi is running trials of the connected car in Verona, Italy and Berlin, Germany. If you’d like to test it out yourself some day, take heart from this line in the press release, available below: “A market launch is currently the subject of intense analysis in the United States.”
Market maturity for traffic light networking represents the next phase of Audi connect
- Audi Online traffic light information system has the potential to save time and fuel
- 15 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions possible
- System alerts driver to speed required to reach the next green light
- Fully developed prototype system showcased in an Audi A6 Saloon at CES
- Integrated into Audi connect and MMI, and compatible with every Audi model
Audi Online traffic light information harnesses the power of in-car internet in a new way via Audi connect to establish a link between the car and the traffic light network via the central traffic computer in each town or city. It quickly assimilates the automated traffic light change sequences in the vicinity, and on the approach to a set of lights the Driver Information System (DIS) located in the central instrument cluster then shows the driver the speed to select in order to pass through the light during a green phase. It also displays a visual aid using red, amber or green icons.
If the driver is already waiting at a red light, Audi connect will calculate and count down the time remaining until the next green light is scheduled to appear via a timer on the DIS. The system also interacts with the car’s Start-Stop function to ensure the engine is switched on five seconds before the green phase.
Audi AG calculates that Online traffic light interaction has the potential to reduce CO2 emissions by up to 15 per cent, and could save approximately 900 million litres of fuel if it were to be deployed throughout Germany.
The fully functional system is now production ready and could be fitted to every Audi model in the range subject to the necessary government legislation. It was actively demonstrated recently on the busy Las Vegas freeways in an Audi A6 Saloon as part of a trailblazing technology display at the Consumer Electronics Show, and comprehensive testing continues in Las Vegas with 50 sets of traffic lights. Testing is also underway in the northern Italian city of Verona, where some 60 traffic lights covering almost the entire city centre are involved, and in Berlin, where 25 Audi customers are driving cars fitted with Online traffic information that can link up to a total of 1,000 traffic lights in the city. A market launch is currently the subject of intense analysis in the United States.
Online traffic light information shared the stage with a host of technological advances from the Vorsprung durch Technik brand at this year’s CES, which represented the next phase in seamless connectivity between Audi models, their drivers and the rest of the digital world. Significant developments in Audi piloted parking and driving were demonstrated, with the central focus on an Audi A7 Sportback that can drive fully autonomously in moving traffic. Another immersive innovation is the Audi Smart Display, an Android-based tablet that allows users to interact with in-car controls yet can also be used as a standalone portable device in the home or on the move.
The Sport quattro laserlight concept also revealed the next generation of Audi lighting. The high-beam laser light unit can illuminate the road by up to 500 metres and will debut on the R18 e-tron quattro sports prototype at Le Mans in June.
Audi models see the light to trim down traffic queues – The evolution of the ‘connected car’ is continuing apace at Audi as demonstrated by its latest production-ready driver assist technology which enables interactivity with city traffic lights.
Note to Editors
In 2013 Audi achieved best ever worldwide sales of 1,575,500 cars, an 8.3 per cent improvement over 2012. Sales in the UK increased by 14.9 per cent year-on-year to 142,040 cars, establishing another record and elevating the brand to the lead position in sales terms in the premium sector for the first time. To maintain this strong performance the brand plans to invest around €22 billion – mainly in new products and sustainable technologies – between now and 2018. Audi lives up to its corporate responsibility and has strategically established the principle of sustainability for its products and processes. The long-term goal is CO2-neutral mobility. This philosophy also applies to the brand’s sports car racing activities, in which Audi made history in 2012 by winning the Le Mans 24-hour race using pioneering hybrid diesel technology in the R18 e-tron quattro. It went on to repeat the performance in the 2013 race, taking the total number of Audi victories there to 12. This year’s all-new 2014 R18 e-tron quattro will aim to continue this incredible run of success.