Home » Audi Tells You How Fast You Have To Drive To Hit All The Traffic Lights. Why Aren’t We All Talking About This?

Audi Tells You How Fast You Have To Drive To Hit All The Traffic Lights. Why Aren’t We All Talking About This?

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This isn’t breaking news of some cutting-edge tech. I mean, it’s technology, and it’s pretty advanced, but it’s been around for, what, five or six or so years at this point? And yet, somehow I’d missed that it existed at all, and now that I’m aware of it, I’m really taken by how useful it seems to be, especially when compared to all of the other ostensibly more complex and full-featured driver assist tools modern cars have now. It’s called Traffic Light Information, and it seems to be an Audi exclusive. Oh, and just for the record, this is by no means an Audi ad; I don’t care if you buy an Audi or not, or, for that matter, any other car brand from the Auto-Union, from DKW to Wanderer. But let’s just take a minute and talk about this pretty simple but remarkably useful feature, and wonder, loudly, why it’s not become more common.

Essentially, what Traffic Light Information does are two things: counts down the time at a red traffic light until it turns green (this feature seems to have appeared in 2016) and then adding something called GLOSA, for “Green Light Optimized Speed Advisory” in 2019 which is a system that computes the optimal speed to drive so you can catch every single green light along your route, surfing from emerald glow to verdant glare over and over, a chain of green lights that remains one city driving’s greatest joys.

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Here’s an Audi video about the system from about three years ago:

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The pretty straightforward functionality of the system hides a lot of sophisticated stuff going on behind the scenes, specifically in the arenas of vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communication, which will likely prove to be crucial if we’re ever going to manage to produce a real, viable network of automated cars that actually, you know, work.

When an Audi (or, I suppose any car) equipped with this or a similar system enters an area that supports V2I, the car logs onto that network with a one-time-use token. There’s an intermediary company involved as well, Traffic Technology Services (TTS), which is responsible for interfacing with the local traffic signal networks and providing the bridging to the internet, where the cars can access the data.

According to their site, in the US there are over 40 metropolitan areas and 48,000 traffic signal intersections that are on the network, and from what I can tell, so far it’s only Audi that has implemented this Personal Signal Assistant tech, though a timeline on their About page talks about partnerships with Mercedes-Benz in 2021, and Ford and Audi in China in 2022. Here’s a map of their US locations:

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Here’s what gets me about all of this: these basic features sound useful as hell, and they’re not even remotely mainstream, like lane keeping or dynamic cruise control or whatever. Some features start with one marque and then prove so useful or desirable they eventually disperse all throughout automobilldom like an adapted evolutionary trait. Take lane departure warning systems, for example. That type of thing first showed up, on, of all cars, the 1992 Mitsubishi Debonair, but now its pretty close to standard on pretty much everything from Fits to Ferraris.

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And, sure, lane keeping is fine, if you like your car beeping or vibrating at you for barely wandering in a lane, when its own fussy rules decide you’re too close, even though you know damn well how to drive in a freaking lane. Compare that to the feeling you get when you manage to time the lights just right and end up in that glorious cascade of green, never having to hit the brakes or anything, surfing from intersection to intersection like a leaf on the wind.

This Audi system tells you how, via math and telecommunications, to do just that, over and over, whenever you need! And if you do hit a red light, there’s that little timer so you know if you have time to fish under the seats for that bag of Combos you’re almost positive is down there or check to see if anyone texted you dirty pictures or whatever.

Audi goes into the tech behind this a bit more, some of which isn’t quite as obvious as you’d think, because there are variations in the timing of the signals:

To do this, Audi and TLI have to precisely predict how traffic lights will behave in the next two minutes in spite of the variability of traffic volume and changing intervals between red and green.

This led TTS to develop a complex analytical algorithm that calculates predictions from three sources: the control program of the traffic signals; real-time data of the traffic computer, a combination of road-occupation cameras, detector strips in the road surface, data on approaching buses and trams and buttons that pedestrians press; and historical data. The forecast algorithm improves itself continuously and learns how, for example, the traffic volume changes in morning commuter traffic or at midday when children leave schools.

Audi vehicles send anonymized data when traffic lights are crossed to a backend, which checks whether the actual crossings of traffic lights correspond to the forecast data. After initial and ongoing quality thresholds are met, the traffic lights are cleared for the display in the car.

Once engineers are able to ensure algorithms are within 95% accuracy of the data, even accounting for various traffic situations, Audi and TTS turn on traffic signals for customers to see for TLI, TTG and GLOSA in their cars.

Audi’s made plenty of videos about this stuff, so here, watch another one:

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Other people who have been paying more attention to Audi electronic innovations have tried the system out, and the reviews seem pretty positive:

Look at that! And yet, this still feels like something everyone forgot about.

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These are both really useful features! And somehow they’re still stuck imprisoned behind the Four Rings of Audi, and no one else is interested? How can this be? When it comes to minor technological driving aids, wouldn’t you think these traffic-light management features would be more appealing to people? Not having to stop and start can save gas, too.

I don’t get it. Am I wrong, here? Shouldn’t features like these be more common? Am I overestimating the joy these simple things can offer? Let’s talk about this. Did everyone know about it but me?

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Ronald Pottol
Ronald Pottol
7 months ago

Well, Ford introduced those keypad door locks with the 1986 model year, and they don’t even put them on all their cars, but that’s the ONLY keyless entry out there. I found it to be really handy for any number of reasons, lock keys in the trunk and give the person you’re leaving the car for the code, for example. Patents should be expired by now, why can’t I have that on everything?

Ilikecarsandbikes
Ilikecarsandbikes
7 months ago

Can we talk about how European lights indicate it is going to turn green before it turns green? Why can’t the US get that?
Although thinking about it, not sure if this would prevent people from inching and rolling early or make it worse, leading to more blocked crosswalks and more left turn lanes blocking visibility for those who can turn right on red.
I could see this improving safety for Pedestrians and cyclists though.

Captain Muppet
Captain Muppet
7 months ago

When the amber light comes on we all pop the clutch down to change in to first gear. No one uses it to jump the lights from a standing start.

Ilikecarsandbikes
Ilikecarsandbikes
7 months ago
Reply to  Captain Muppet

that is the correct way to use it and its intended use to facilitate traffic flow. I live in an area with self important knuckleheads who regularly accelerate to a red light just to gain a car length. and regularly roll before the light is green in the hope of timing it and not having to brake again (although they often roll forward then stop then the light changes).

My hope is that it would allow a longer time period to catch people’s attention and improve overall reaction time in practice.

LuzifersLicht
LuzifersLicht
7 months ago

So…. any word on what TTS does with the data they collect from those vehicle-to-infrastructure exchanges? Any movement profiles getting sold to advertisers/the NSA/the local government?
I want to say German data protection would protest but they’ve gradually gotten more quiet about domestic privacy violations and compensated by crying all the louder about Chinese phones and whatever instead.

Edit: their website doesn’t elaborate on who they’re sharing what data with, but they do have a “codeof conduct” which is aggressively vague about data protection

Information security concerns the protection of company, customer, and user data […] which must be reliably protected against unauthorized access in accordance with applicable data protection regulations.

[…]Risks and current threats are continuously assessed

[…]processes ensure that data subjects can exercise their rights regarding the processing of their personal data.

truly a lesson in how to state facts without providing any sort of useful information. “Sensitive data is sensitive. We recognize that data in need of protection needs to be protected and we consider doing so. Also if the law says we have to protect your data, well, guess that means we have to.”

Edit2: Audi does say that the data they send is anonymized

Audi vehicles send anonymized data when traffic lights are crossed to a backend, which checks whether the actual crossings of traffic lights correspond to the forecast data. After initial and ongoing quality thresholds are met, the traffic lights are cleared for the display in the car.

but also that the ” complex analytical algorithm” TTS uses includes “road-occupation cameras” which maybe could allow them to read license plates?

Last edited 7 months ago by LuzifersLicht
Jb996
Jb996
8 months ago

I’m surprised to see that Indiana is a Midwestern bastion of stop-light technology.
Personally, the lights here seem just as random, and I hit EVERY red, just as often as anywhere else.

Ben
Ben
8 months ago

Looking at the map of Minnesota I was a bit confused by the random dot in the middle of the state. The others are all in the Twin Cities, but I guess that’s St. Cloud? Really random choice when there are multiple larger cities in the state. Maybe people in St. Cloud really like Audis though? 🙂

Hgrunt
Hgrunt
8 months ago

I’ve put a lot of seat time in a ’19 Audi e-tron with the V2G countdown feature. It doesn’t always work well, because it’ll sometimes pick up the countdown signal from a nearby light, rather than the one you’re in front of. This results in things like, seeing a countdown on the freeway because it’s picking up a nearby light

Cobbie
Cobbie
8 months ago

Audis and BMWs in my area have the next generation of this feature. It lets them ignore the lights altogether

ES
ES
8 months ago

so, i’m tailgating Audi’s on surface streets now? roger that.

(joking, people – i only tailgate little old ladies while laying on my horn)

My Goat Ate My Homework
My Goat Ate My Homework
8 months ago

There is a pair of lights by me that if you stomp the gas and do about 50MPH you can make it through the next one as it turns yellow. It’s the last two lights before the highway on-ramp. Would this system tell you that?

1) you have to be first in line at the light.
2) you have to accelerate fairly quickly (like not squealing tires, but close-ish)
3) you have to do nearly 50 in a 35 for about a half mile
4) you have to be OK with running a yellow light at 50MPH
5) this only works until someone services one of the intersections and they get out of sync. Then you have to wait till the power goes back out and back on and they reset at the same time and sync back up.

Cryptoenologist
Cryptoenologist
8 months ago

From your description, it sounds like there is very likely another, slower, speed that will hit the second light after it goes green again. There almost certainly is but it might be too slow to be reasonable.

Captain Muppet
Captain Muppet
7 months ago

Near me is a big roundabout with multiple traffic lights on it, because the UK is designed and built by wankers.

If you can get to 60mph in sub 6 seconds and corner at about 1g you can turn right (that’s the long way round, we drive on the left and have clockwise roundabouts) through three lights all on green. Just for the first two cars at the first lights though.

My Goat Ate My Homework
My Goat Ate My Homework
7 months ago
Reply to  Captain Muppet

That’s just it… They MAKE us drive like that. I mean, it’s just coincidence that we enjoy it.

Captain Muppet
Captain Muppet
7 months ago

Not stopping and starting at all those lights definitely offsets the carbon from flooring it to get through the greens

I’m hooning for climate change.

Jakob K's Garage
Jakob K's Garage
8 months ago

In old VW busses it was also included, only in the manual analog form: You could see over the other cars, all the way up to the next light, and try to adapt your coasting to avoid having to get that heavy underpowered box up to speed again from a standstill.

Taargus Taargus
Taargus Taargus
8 months ago

Fascinating, but unfortunately useless around here.

We have a major, though not divided “ring road” cutting through various suburban big box stores and connecting to the interstate here, just outside our small city, similar to probably a thousand other towns like it. I’ve lived here most of my adult life, and I’ve gotten all greens TWICE. It’s damn near impossible, and definitely involves some speeding. Similar to when you’re watching someone pitch a perfect game into the 7th inning, once you get about 3/4 of the way through, you start to freak out a little. And like most perfect game bids, you then get hit 4-5 times and you let out a massive sigh of disappointment.

Anyway, it’s programmed like absolute shit, and I hate it very, very much. It’s only a 4+ mile stretch, and somehow despite it being as wide as an interstate and being in a town that absolutely could afford to address the issue, it takes 20 minutes to get from one end to the other. Even at times with little to no traffic. I’m more likely to hit every single red, than get half of them as greens.

Harris K Telemacher
Harris K Telemacher
8 months ago

like a leaf on the wind.

RIP Wash. We will watch how you soar!

Jason Smith
Jason Smith
8 months ago

It will never not be too soon…

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