Audis can now talk to traffic lights (Well, kinda. In some cities.)

August 16, 2016

Autonomous cars are cool, but they'll be far cooler when they're able to interact with their environments. Such vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-grid communications systems promise to revolutionize the auto industry, improve the flow of traffic, and dramatically reduce roadway crashes and deaths.

But despite all the movement we've witnessed on the autonomous car front, we've seen fairly little on V2V or V2G. Soon, Audi will change that.

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This fall, Audi will begin offering a service called "traffic light information" on select vehicles. As you might guess from the name, the service tells Audi drivers when red lights will turn green. (It appears that Audi has opted not to offer the complementary service--telling drivers how long until green lights turn red--which is probably for the best.) The system works via a countdown on the instrument cluster and the head-up display, if the car is equipped with the latter.

If you're an impatient motorist, you might be very excited by the prospect of this new offering, but curb your enthusiasm for a sec. "Traffic light information" comes with a couple of catches.

For starters, the service doesn't communicate with individual traffic lights. Instead it speaks to citywide traffic management systems, which typically run from a central hub or series of hubs. That means that cities have to agree to give Audi access to their traffic information, which means that the service won't be available in all places.   

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Also, "traffic light information" won't be available on all Audi vehicles. According to the automaker, "traffic light information" will be offered on 2017 models of the Audi A4, A4 allroad, and Q7 that were built after June 1st, 2016.

And lastly, it won't come standard. Instead, it'll be offered as part of Audi's suite of high-tech services called "connect PRIME". 

We'll post updates about pricing of "traffic light information" when information becomes available. In the meantime, you can watch the service in action in the demo video above.

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