Traffic lights in Washington, D.C., can now talk to cars

March 14, 2018

Washington, D.C., is the latest city to link its traffic system to cars equipped with vehicle-to-infrastructure, or V2I, communication, Audi said today.

Audi is the first automaker to include V2I technology on some of its vehicles, a critical step toward self-driving cars. Right now, the benefits are not huge. On cars equipped with V2I, a display on the instrument panel will count down the seconds before the light turns green if you are waiting at an intersection that features V2I technology. In the nation’s capital, there are currently over 600 such crossroads.

MORE: The levels of self-driving cars, explained

However, in the future, when more cars are equipped with V2I, they will be able to communicate back to the city’s central traffic control system to identify traffic flow and bottlenecks. The city could use this data to reroute cars, adjust traffic light times, or make improvements with city planners down the road.

The “time-to-green” function is, alas, only available with an Audi Connect Prime subscription, which costs $199 for six months or $499 for 18 months. The service also gives you features like geofencing, curfew and valet alerts, streaming music, Google Earth and voice search, Twitter, as well as fuel price info.

Washington is the sixth city to make V2I available with Audi. Time-to-green debuted in 2016 in Las Vegas. Dallas, Houston, Palo Alto, California, Denver, Portland, Oregon, and Arcadia, California, followed, totaling over participating 1,600 intersections.

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