I think most of us can agree that red lights are a necessary evil. Notice I said most, not all, of us. Count German car maker Audi among those who think we can find a way around sitting at red lights.
Audi is developing a system that will let drivers know how long an upcoming traffic light will stay a certain color. The idea is that, once informed about how long they have to make it through a light, drivers can adjust their speeds accordingly and spend as little time waiting at red lights as possible.
The system will work by learning traffic light patterns using local data sources. The data will then be sent to the car using the vehicles WiFi system and -- voila -- a countdown will appear on the dash telling drivers how long they have to zip through the next light.
Audi has dubbed the developmental program “Traffic Light Assist” (TLA). TLA has been tested in Berlin, Verona, and Las Vegas thus far. A widespread implementation of the technology likely depends on whether local governments are willing to grant Audi access to their traffic light data. This is no doubt the biggest obstacle in Audi’s way right now.
It’s not hard to envision how many drivers would use the technology. If you see you’ve got 6 seconds to get through a light that’s 500 feet away, do you relax and agree to wait at the light for a few minutes? Or do you hit the gas and try squeeze through the intersection before the light turns red? The system seems like a great way to encourage speeding. Good luck convincing authorities otherwise.
We’ll wait and see how this one turns out, but I’d guess the chances of this tech really taking off are slim at best.