October 24, 2008 weblog
Hit all green lights with new Audi gadget
(PhysOrg.com) -- If you drive down the same roads every day, you probably know the patterns of familiar stop lights - how long they take to turn green, or when the green arrow will appear. For light-conscious drivers or anyone looking to save some fuel, Audi is developing a new device that lets you know when upcoming stop lights will turn green, and even calculates how fast you should drive in order to coast through them.
The device, called Travolution, communicates with special transmitters fitted inside traffic lights up to 300 yards away. After calculating the car's position, the in-car gadget determines how much time remains until a green light turns red, or red light becomes green. If you can safely make it through the intersection, the device displays the optimum speed on a screen in your car.
In addition, if there's no traffic nearby, the device can even make the light turn green for you. If many cars are equipped with the system, the Travolution could serve as a communications link between cars and the traffic light, causing the light to adjust its signal based on how many cars are approaching.
The gadget works with any vehicle using Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) technology, although traffic lights must be equipped with the transmitters.
The Travolution system, which was originally developed by the Technical University of Munich in conjunction with the traffic technology firm GEVAS, is intended to improve traffic flow and fuel economy, and reduce pollution. It could also help in meeting new European Union emissions standards.
Kate Dixon of Audi UK said that if 10 percent of cars in a city were fitted with the technology, all drivers would notice an improvement in traffic flow, mainly in reduced start-and-stop driving. However, the device would not be very helpful in extremely dense, bumper-to-bumper traffic, since drivers don´t have as much control over their speeds.
During two years of trials in Ingolstadt, Bavaria, Audi equipped 46 traffic lights with the wireless transmitters. Tests showed that, in busy intersections, cars equipped with the device hardly ever had to stop on red.
Audi plans to perform further tests, and did not know how much the Travolution would cost if it is ever commercialized.