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New Audi V2I Tech Will Now Tell You When Traffic Lights Turn Green

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【Summary】Audi unveiled the new technology in Las Vegas, where the company is collaborating with the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada (RTC) to offer this feature that relies on a robust Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I) network.

Michael Cheng    Dec 13, 2016 6:24 AM PT

Waiting for traffic lights to turn green at the intersection can feel like eternity when you're in a hurry. To reduce frustration, some cities are equipped with countdown timers displayed next to the light. In locations with clunky roadways, this feature is typically unavailable – unless you own an Audi.

The leading European automaker just launched a new feature that will tell people how long they have to wait at intersections with traffic lights. Audi unveiled the new technology in Las Vegas, where the company is collaborating with the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada (RTC) to offer this feature that relies on a robust Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I) network.

"A lot of behavior in the car changes," said Pom Malhotra, Director of Connected Vehicles at Audi. "You have time to relax your hands and shoulders ... time to hand a milk bottle to your child in the back seat ... while knowing you're not taking attention away from the road."

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Leveraging V2I Technology

In application, there's a lot going on under the hood of the car and the city, when the feature is being used by the driver. The vehicle utilizes data generated by the city and feeds it through Audi's partner Traffic Technology Services (TTS). With a unique token, the system logs into the city's infrastructure cloud network. Next, the car uses its GPS location and compares it with the traffic system map. The TTS then gathers information about the unit, as the driver approaches the intersection. It is important to consider that this feature only works in cities that support V2I frameworks.

By comparison, Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) networks are more difficult to work with due to their decentralized structure. The technology relies on a specific frequency range (i.e., 5.9 GHz in Europe and the US) to foster communication between cars, based on IEEE 802.11 standards (Wireless LAN).

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Next-generation Safety

Toyota is a pioneer in both V2V and V2I communication protocols for smart vehicles. The establishment launched ITS Connect in 2015, which supports next-generation safety features and driver assist functionalities using the networks at a standardized 760 MHz frequency. Toyota hopes to curtail up to 40 percent of traffic accidents that occur at local intersections using the system.

Going back to Audi's latest smart car feature, the company is in the process of improving its V2I capabilities for drivers. By sharing vehicle data to cities in real-time, it would be possible for large-scale traffic systems to adjust the flow of cars and decrease traffic jams.

For now, the traffic light countdown technology is only available in the following Audi models: A4, Q7 and A4 All-road. You also have to be in the city of Las Vegas to use it, where it is being supported by over 508 cameras, traffic flow monitoring systems and 106 controllable digital message boards. In the future, as more urban locations adopt V2I smart infrastructure, this feature will likely increase in adoption and usage.

"It's a huge benefit for the infrastructure and vehicles to talk to each other," mentioned Kevin Balke, research engineer at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute.

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