Audi ‘Traffic Light Cars’ Are Coming Soon

Audi recently announced that it’s looking to include stoplight timers in the Audi Q7, A4, and Allroad vehicle which would essentially tell drivers that they have 37 seconds to wait so maybe now is the time to check on the kids, make a call, text if you must (illegal in 46 states) or just simply put you in the know.

Audi will start with seven cities this year

Audi drivers who already pay $25 a month for the Audi Connect package in the aforementioned models will be treated to the red light timer if they happen to live in the seven, yet announced, cities that Audi hopes to roll out the feature in this year. Presently, the Audi Connect package offers drivers navigation, infotainment and safety information.

Most traffic lights in major cities are internet connected and Audi will be using a third party to retrieve the traffic lights’ (about 300,000 in the United States) information from the cloud and get it to the cars’ dashboards.

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In testing last year which took place in Palo Alto, Las Vegas, and Washington, DC, Audi put safety first and determined the proper distance to begin giving drivers stoplight information. The company was concerned that if drivers knew how long the light would be green for they might speed up to make the light, so that feature was disabled. Additionally, the countdown timer when at a red light disappears when the light is three second from turning green. People run red lights or late yellows all the time and Audi clearly wants drivers watching the road not a timer to determine when to get on the accelerator.

Audi believes that it’s a clever way to alleviate some of the stress that comes from traffic by simply letting a driver know they are stuck there for a specific amount of time.

Convenience for some Audi drivers

“If you just think about the number of intersections that you pass through, and you think about the accumulated anxiety, accumulated stress that happens because of these, it’s information like this,” says Pom Malhotra, general manager of connected vehicles for Audi, “that allows your mind to relax and basically, say, ‘All right. I have some time here. I can be doing other things instead of readying myself to jump on the accelerator.'”

That statement came in a press event held in San Francisco late last week.

Malhotra stopped short of telling you to break the law.

“By no means do we encourage use of smartphones behind the wheel, but if there’s a time to do it, it’s when you’re stopped,” Malhotra told reporters and others in attendance.

Audi, in the future, would like to expand the program that, once again, will start small with seven cities as Audi needs to negotiate with each city individually and even companies as some of the 300,000 stoplights in use in the States are operated by private companies. Audi thinks it could ultimately use the information in the cloud to reroute drivers, or suggest a speed to enjoy a series of green lights.

“This is our foray into V-to-I,” said Malhotra. “This is designed not as a safety feature but a comfort and convenience feature.”

There is little question that our cars, no matter the maker, will become more connected over time.