Audi is launching a new vehicle-to-infrastructure platform (V2I) in some of its 2017 cars, allowing vehicles to notify drivers of how long they’ll be waiting at a red light. It’s the first step in what is expected to be a massive leap forward in connected cars, as vehicles talk to surrounding infrastructure and other vehicles to make driving safer and more convenient.
The car will wirelessly receive real-time signal information from city-wide traffic management systems, allowing drivers to see how long until the light turns green. As V2I systems mature, they could tell a car when a light will turn red, allowing an autonomous vehicle to let off the throttle if it knows it won’t make the light, improving fuel economy.
Eventually, cars will be able to communicate with everything from parking lots to tollbooths to help the driver make better decisions about how to get to their destination. And, because the cars will be able to talk to infrastructure as well, traffic lights could more easily respond to increased traffic flow by adjusting how long the light stays green and reducing congestion.
It’s all part of something called smart cities, which is a hot topic these days. AT&T has partnered with a who’s who of big data to create a framework for cash-strapped cities to adopt. The goal is to save cities money while improving the lives of its citizens.
Audi’s tech, which will be available in some 2017 Q7, A4, and A4 Allroad models beginning this fall, will work in a handful of as-yet unannounced cities at launch, with more coming thereafter. Audi isn’t ready to reveal which cities it’ll work with, but the fact that it’s launching at all is exciting.
"In the future we could envision this technology integrated into vehicle navigation, start / stop functionality and can even be used to help improve traffic flow in municipalities," said Pom Malhotra, general manager of Connected Vehicles for Audi in a statement. "These improvements could lead to better overall efficiency and shorter commuting times."
This is something that Audi has been working on for several years, and it’s finally making its way to cars you can buy. Expect similar vehicle-to-infrastructure technologies to roll out across the industry over the next few years.