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:

Usmap

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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Debonaire Lane

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.

5568 Audiglosa

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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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Andy the Swede
Andy the Swede
9 months ago

Working within this area of the automotive industry for the last 20 years, I think that one of the main reasons for this was the race towards automated driving.

Just as with a bunch of other, more or less useful ADAS, this system got overlooked sometime there around 2015-2016 when the guys with the highest pay-checks started daydreaming about releasing autonomous vehicles at scale five years in the future.

Jakob K's Garage
Jakob K's Garage
9 months ago

Audis are the cars that need this technology the most: I very often get overtaken by (a black) one, thinking “wow he must really like to stop at red lights” only to catch up with it at the next intersection 😉

Clay T
Clay T
8 months ago

Around here in So. Cal., people race to see who can sit at red lights the longest.

Drive By Commenter
Drive By Commenter
9 months ago

People would get impatient and second guess the computer. Other drivers would also mess it up by being inattentive yahoos. People go like mad only to slam on their brakes at the next red. Then get pissy when locals who timed the light pass them.

Bassracerx
Bassracerx
9 months ago

HOLY SHIT IF MY WIFE HAD THIS SHE WOULD BE DEAD.

Angrycat Meowmeow
Angrycat Meowmeow
9 months ago

I’ve never seen this in my 18 S5, but I’ve also never paid for audi connect, and they turned off the 3G networks the car used for the bulk of its communications a few months after I bought it. From what I’ve seen on Reddit though, a lot of people don’t find the system as useful as you’d expect.

OnceInAMillenia
OnceInAMillenia
9 months ago

I recall the original announcement of this at CES 2014 (https://www.autoblog.com/amp/2014/01/09/audi-traffic-light-assist-ces-2014/) but haven’t thought about it since. Green lights don’t take so long that I’d ever want this, and Audi is so boring IMO that I wouldn’t buy one for the feature even if I did need to know the red light time to the second

Taco Shackleford
Taco Shackleford
9 months ago

This is very useful technology, and I had no idea it was in use, but it seems like this might be a stage of tech that other manufacturers skip in the hunt for automation. The least Audi could do at this point is roll it out to other VAG brands.

Scoutdude
Scoutdude
9 months ago

Years ago one of my customers was the guy that programed the traffic lights in the city where I lived at the time. He did say that once upon a time the standard was to time lights so that you would hit greens, if you hit the first one and did the speed limit. Then of course they added more and more lights making it very difficult to achieve. For the on demand lights they did set those to only work in certain time windows as to not mess up the main street’s sequencing. That is why sometimes that on demand light seems to take for ever to let you go and other times it is relatively quick.

While this tech is very cool being limited to only those areas with the compatible traffic light equipment does make it worthless for large amounts of the population that don’t drive in those dots. Since this relies on the local gov’t to have the correct equipment controlling the lights I don’t see that map changing very rapidly. No reason for the gov’t to replace functioning equipment and when they do need new equipment there is no gurantee that they will purchase the equipment compatible with the system.

Around here it would be useless the time of day when it would be nice to have. So many stop lights I encounter are of the type where I come to a stop and go hmm, am I going to be sitting through 2, 3 or 4 cycles before I can make it through. IE who in front of me is going to be snoozing when the light turns green and who is going to have to sit there at that green light waiting for the guy running the very red light.

But I do agree that I’m surprised that Audi isn’t making more noise about it, well at least in those areas where it will actually work. That is probably why they don’t make too big of a stink about it because if people know about it, buy a car and then find out it doesn’t work in the area they thought it would there will be unhappy customers. Better to keep quiet in the marketing that goes to a wide audience and let the local dealer/salespeople in areas where it does have coverage sell the feature.

Alan Christensen
Alan Christensen
8 months ago
Reply to  Scoutdude

The city I used to live in installed red light cameras. What I learned was the company installing and managing the system had strict contractural rules limiting what the city could do with their traffic light system. Since the red light camera contractor gets a cut of traffic fines, it’s in their interest to have more drivers running red lights. So the contract forbids the city from improving the timing of their lights. And since the city enjoys their bump in revenue, they’re happy to go along. In fact, there’s incentive to make the timing worse.

Last edited 8 months ago by Alan Christensen
Scoutdude
Scoutdude
8 months ago

Unfortunately that is all to true. That same local city many years later installed red light cameras at an intersection where there was a high accident rate. Unfortunately the reality was that they shortened the yellow to increase the revenue and the accident rate did not go down. Meanwhile a little longer yellow would have likely lowered accident rates, but of course would not bring in any additional revenue.

Antosh Nirmul
Antosh Nirmul
9 months ago

I have a 2019 A5 with this feature. It works great, sort of. I live in Scottsdale, AZ but it only works in Phoenix, Mesa, and some other neighboring cities. I think it’s giving minimum speeds to the greens, but only if you’re in range based on the speed limit. The biggest issue is it only works if you have an active Audi Connect subscription for online features in the car (includes some nav features, weather info, and gas prices for every station). The subscription is maybe $30 a month depending on how you subscribe.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
9 months ago

Seems like for this to work you need to be 1st in linear the red light and the system needs to know how many cars are in line at the next red light. Otherwise you arrive and wait until 4 people on call phones start acceleration.

JunkerDave
JunkerDave
9 months ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

Isn’t that what horns are for, to achieve synchronization?

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
9 months ago
Reply to  JunkerDave

You apparently missed the topic of conversation.

Morgan van Humbeck
Morgan van Humbeck
9 months ago

Did not know about this, and that’s frustrating. Audi should be building global ad campaigns around this!

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
9 months ago

It’s been a looong time since I lived in Germany and circumstances may have radically changed in that interval, but — at the risk of over generalization — Germans are the most disciplined and well trained drivers I have ever encountered. That’s from among the 60-odd countries in which I’ve driven. I have a feeling that this technology would only truly work in Germany. Maybe Norway, too; they’re pretty serious about driving rules there, also.

Jason Roth
Jason Roth
9 months ago

Never heard a peep about this, and I agree it sounds amazing.

Also amazing sounding is the Breeders song “Spacewoman”, from their album All Nerve, which includes the line “Do you ever wanna turn around and go?/ Hitting every green light on the long way home.”

Bob Boxbody
Bob Boxbody
9 months ago

I don’t know how Audi can know that for all traffic lights; it’s not like they’re all timed the same. I do enjoy the section of my commute where I know the lights are all timed to the speed limit, so it’s easy to never have to stop for that part.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
9 months ago
Reply to  Bob Boxbody

Well doesn’t work every where per ad.

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
9 months ago

The only enjoyable thing about driving in Philadelphia (other than not taking SEPTA) is that they really did do a good job of timing the Broad Street traffic lights, hit the first green light at just the right time and speed, providing there’s not much traffic, you can make it all the way up to Cheltenham without stopping. It has to be at around 3am or so to work, but it can

Taco Shackleford
Taco Shackleford
9 months ago
Reply to  Ranwhenparked

Same thing on City Ave from the end of St. Joe’s to 76

Alan Christensen
Alan Christensen
8 months ago
Reply to  Ranwhenparked

Meanwhile, there’s no way to drive State Street in Erie PA without hitting a red light every single block, even in the dead of night.

10001010
10001010
9 months ago

They’re a little bit out of sync now but for a while there all of the lights in downtown Houston were set to all go green in the NE-SW directions at the same time then when those turned red all the lights in the NW-SE directions would all turn green. This results in the optimal speed to catch all of the lights green in one direction being “as fast as you can go”.

I wonder if Audi’s system will suggest flooring it or if it tops out at the speed limit.

Palmetto Ranger
Palmetto Ranger
9 months ago

This would improve my quality of life more than just about any other tech feature besides true automated driving. My daily commute is on a highway with about 35 stoplights between me and my office. The one glorious time years ago when I pretty much caught them all I realized that the lights almost double my commute. If I did not live in one of the black stretches on the map I would be on the phone with my wife right now trying to convince her that I needed an Audi.

Chronometric
Chronometric
9 months ago

In my fast-growing town, they change the lights and timing frequently. There is no way that Audi’s system can keep up with the timing algorithms in every light. And, of course, it cannot predict side streets with traffic-sensing switches. I think you haven’t heard of it because it is bogus.

Last edited 9 months ago by Chronometric
Who Knows
Who Knows
9 months ago

Or, make it low tech and simply have a visible countdown on lights to show how much time remains, no need for new cars, wireless communications, calculations, etc. On a few work trips to China, the traffic was downright idiotic, but one thing they did right were big countdown timers on some of the lights to give this information directly to anyone driving.

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
9 months ago
Reply to  Who Knows

That would be extremely helpful, I mean, we already have countdown timers for pedestrian crosswalks.

David Smith
David Smith
9 months ago
Reply to  Ranwhenparked

I use the pedestrian crosswalk timers all the time while driving. Sometimes it’s just take my foot off the gas, not going to make it and sometimes it’s just need a little mustard to make it.

The Dude
The Dude
9 months ago
Reply to  Ranwhenparked

I know in some cities (or maybe it’s states) actually have laws that you cannot have a count down timer for the stoplight itself…

A little communication from our dumb stop lights would go such a long way. And while I’m ranting – Google for the love of god please don’t suggest alternate routes that take me down stoplight laden roads and tell me that my estimated time is similar to the route I’m already taking!

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
9 months ago
Reply to  The Dude

Google’s “Better Route Available” rarely has anything to do with being a faster route. Because, of course, no reasonable person would ever consider the two to mean the same thing

Ben
Ben
8 months ago
Reply to  Ranwhenparked

I swear GPS routing has gotten worse over the past few years. My first GPS did some stupid things, but the next one was pretty good at handling stuff like this. Lately both Google and Garmin will take me on mind-bogglingly stupid routes that they know are longer and slower than the better option (the ETA moves earlier as soon as I convince them to take my route) yet that’s still what they recommend.

My strong suspicion is that they’ve handed GPS nav over to AI instead of paying people to optimize the logic. Either that or the logic got so complicated no one understands it anymore and can’t debug problems (so…just like AI then 😉 ).

LuzifersLicht
LuzifersLicht
8 months ago
Reply to  Ben

A case of beer says there’s method to the madness, possibly directing traffic away from McMansion streets, so the very important people don’t have to deal with peasants clogging up their streets and making noise when they want to enjoy a glass of champagne on the porch.

Same with google maps’ “eco mode” or whatever, which has decided that gas vehicles are less economic in stop-and-go traffic and therefore will try to route you away from the highway the second traffic increases, with the result of you now driving through some village. Of course that not only means tons of stop-and-go anyhow – because there’s going to be traffic lights AND tiny streets AND pedestrians AND bus stops – it also means the poor people living in that village suddenly have 10x more traffic making noise, polluting the air and potentially killing your kids that could happily play soccer on the street half a year ago.
But hey, on the plus side, I bet the mayor gets to buy a nice new office from all the extra speed camera revenue generated by annoyed drivers finding themselves getting routed from the autobahn to a 30kph residential street.

Last edited 8 months ago by LuzifersLicht
3WiperB
3WiperB
9 months ago

This sounds glorious until you have someone road raging behind you because you are going the speed limit or less to hit the lights.

Eggsalad
Eggsalad
9 months ago

That would work great around here (and I do see that Las Vegas has some coverage) but only at 3:30 AM, when the roads are clear. Any other time of day you’d get stuck behind the 4 cars that were waiting for the light to change, 3 of whose drivers are too busy looking at their phones to notice that the light has gone green.

Harmanx
Harmanx
9 months ago

Not having to stop and start can save gas, too.

…and the emissions, of course — and brake pad wear.

Larry B
Larry B
9 months ago

Back in the early 70s I had a summer job in Madison Heights, MI. I lived in Harper Woods and so would take Eight Mile to work and back. It was a glorious thing to to drive with a pack of cars all going 43 MPH to catch the greens. I think there was only one light that wasn’t timed, maybe Groesbeck? I understand Jefferson was the same.

UnseenCat
UnseenCat
9 months ago
Reply to  Larry B

There were so many cities with lights timed like that in the 70s and 80s, some places even into the 90s. You learned not to worry about racing light-to-light; just pick up from a red and then keep the flow of traffic moving and you could put blocks behind you with only small speed adjustments. Modern random inductive/pressure-sensitive lights generally annoy me because I remember the “better times” ????

Uninformed Fucknugget
Uninformed Fucknugget
9 months ago
Reply to  Larry B

Similar setup where I grew up. As teenagers it didn’t take my friend group long to figure out that we could also get all green lights by doubling the speed limit.

Last edited 9 months ago by Uninformed Fucknugget
Jack Beckman
Jack Beckman
8 months ago
Reply to  Larry B

Most of 8 Mile is still timed that way. Unfortunately, the drivers that rush light to light yet are slow to pull away make it hard to do 43. During non-rush hours I have even turned on cruise control to make the lights a few times. How much gas could we save if more streets were properly timed (and drivers drove them properly)?

That guy
That guy
9 months ago

I’m sorry officer. My car advised me to go that fast to catch the next light green.

Jonathan Hendry
Jonathan Hendry
9 months ago

That’s a probably really misleading map. It would suggest Connecticut and Massachusetts are completely covered but I’m skeptical.

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