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Audi’s newest cars will be able to tell drivers when a red light will turn green

The technology is set to be usable in a few cities later this year.


In an industry first, German carmaker Audi is equipping its latest models with a feature that will allow cars to show when a red light is about to turn green.

The feature, which allows the cars to receive traffic light information in areas that have centralized control, will roll out city by city. The carmaker expects five to seven cities to be up and running by the end of this year, though Audi won’t say which ones are expected to be first.

Audi is pitching the technology as a way to make driving more enjoyable.

“It’s information like this that allows your mind to relax,” Audi general manager Pom Malhotra said in a briefing with reporters in San Francisco. ”That white-knuckle experience goes away.”

The car will show the time remaining before a light turns green, but only up until a few seconds before it changes, thus hopefully ensuring that the driver looks up to make sure that the light indeed turns as expected.

Over time, the car could even use the red light information to briefly turn itself off during stops. Or the car could look at the estimated stop time, combined with traffic data, to see if it makes sense to instead turn right and take a different street.

“These are all enhancements we are looking at with this technology,” Malhotra said.

More broadly, though, communication between vehicles and traffic infrastructure is seen as critical for the evolution of self-driving cars.

Audi is also pitching this as a benefit of having technology built directly into the car, rather than coming from Apple or Google via a phone.

“This is not an app,” Malhotra said. “This is not information that is available on a smartphone that you are using.”

Audi drivers will have to pay for the service. Traffic light information will be part of Audi’s paid Connect Prime service, which costs between $25 and $33 per month and includes a range of traffic, safety and entertainment services, including music streaming, as well as the cellular data needed to deliver those services.

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