If you pull up to a traffic light in a 2017 Audi, feel free to change the radio station, check out the driver next to you, or clean mustard off your shirt — your car will keep track of when the light goes green. The German auto maker announced today that three 2017 Audi models will be able to communicate with traffic lights, starting a countdown clock inside the vehicle for when stop will become go.
The system is the first step in what Audi calls “vehicle to infrastructure integration,” or V2I. It will debut in the fall of 2016 in a select group of unnamed U.S. cities, Audi writes in a press release.
Audi Q7, A4, and A4 Allroad models with Audi connect built after June 1, 2016 will be able to take in real-time data from the traffic management system that runs the selected cities’ traffic lights. Audi will pull the traffic data from Traffic Technology Services Inc., a company headquartered near Portland, Oregon.
“This feature represents Audi’s first step in vehicle-to-infrastructure integration,” Pom Malhotra, Audi’s general manager of connected vehicles, says in the press release. “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. These improvements could lead to better overall efficiency and shorter commuting times.”
Audi has a record of being first on vehicle connectivity. It was the first to offer broadband internet in a vehicle in 2010, and also the first to offer 4G/LTE connectivity in 2014. The focus on interconnectivity is part of the plan to have intelligent (soon to be self-driving) cars seamlessly integrate with the smart cities of the future.
Earlier in August, Audi detailed certain innovations from other companies, like Google’s sticky hood and William Liddiard’s ball-shaped wheels, that will help make transportation better. We’re interested in anything that makes commutes suck less while the world waits on the inevitable driverless car to reach the market.
Although, just like Tesla’s recently beleaguered Autopilot, Audi warns that “the feature is not a substitute for safe and attentive driving,” so maybe hold off on cleaning up the major mustard stains.
But the future is coming whether people misuse the technology or not, and who wouldn’t want to live in a future without L.A.’s notorious traffic stop wait times?