Opinion

"Traffic-light reading car tech is great but governments must help"

Traffic light recognition tech is incredible but requires co-operation from governments, says Mike Rutherford

Audi traffic lights opinion

I must admit, one year ago when Audi first hit me with its ambitious Traffic Light Recognition Technology (TLRT) promises, I was pessimistic.

But all that changed last week when the brand urged me to be among the first in the world to give TLRT a go in busy Berlin on a murky Monday during the evil evening rush hour.

TLRT is borderline surreal. On open, free-flowing roads, the driver doesn’t know it’s there. However, it’s a different story in town, as the Audi he’s in and that set of traffic lights ahead effectively enter into silent but meaningful ‘conversations’ with each other.

Government to spend £15million on 'road revolution'

If, for example, the driver sees green lights 200 metres up the road and considers speeding up to get through them before they change, he’ll think again after eyeing the dial in the Audi’s dashboard, which says there’s just, say, three seconds (and counting down) before green becomes red.

However, the TLRT tale gets better still. Once coming to an undramatic halt and feeling the engine automatically cut out, the driver is then informed, for example, he’s got another countdown of 70 seconds before the power unit automatically fires up, then a further five seconds before the lights actually turn green and he’s off.

Audi’s thinking is that during this minute or so of guaranteed driving inactivity, the motorist can sip coffee, glance at a magazine, or just chill. Added bonuses include reduced consumption and emissions, smoother traffic flows and a healthier driving experience. It’s brilliant, especially as Audi will charge customers hundreds rather than thousands for it.

Removing white lines from roads reduces speeds

Its audaciously clever gadgetry is only as good as the faceless highway management types at national and local governments, though. Unless they allow Audi access to their traffic light phasing data, TLRT is toast.

Berlin’s civil servants are enthusiastically working with the brand to facilitate TLRT and enjoy the resulting benefits. The big question is: will council employees in towns and cities across Britain be equally helpful with their data? If they aren’t, they’ll be robbing motorists of technology that undoubtedly results in smoother traffic flows, plus cleaner, greener and more enjoyable, fuel-saving car journeys. What’s not to like?

Let us know your thoughts below, or on Twitter or Facebook.

Recommended

Audi e-tron GT: specs, images and RS model confirmed
Audi

Audi e-tron GT: specs, images and RS model confirmed

Fully electric Audi e-tron GT saloon to be revealed next year, and a hot RS model is on the way
9 Oct 2020
VW emissions scandal: VW installed ‘defeat devices’ in thousands of cars, High Court finds
VW Emissions scandal update 2
Volkswagen

VW emissions scandal: VW installed ‘defeat devices’ in thousands of cars, High Court finds

The UK’s High Court has ruled that VW installed devices to cheat emissions tests in thousands of its cars
6 Apr 2020
What is Audi's Virtual Cockpit?
Audi Virtual Cockpit - header
Audi

What is Audi's Virtual Cockpit?

We give you the lowdown on Audi's hi-tech dashboard display screen, the Virtual Cockpit
24 Mar 2020
Germany losing car domination
OPINION Twin Test
Audi

Germany losing car domination

With Audi's unprecedented early exit from World Car of the Year, Mike Rutherford asks is Germany losing its motoring domination
15 Feb 2020

Most Popular

New Suzuki Swace estate launched on UK market
News

New Suzuki Swace estate launched on UK market

Based on the Toyota Corolla Touring Sports, the Suzuki Swace estate comes to the UK
11 Nov 2020
All-new Renault Kangoo van unveiled ahead of 2021 launch
Renault Kangoo ZE Concept - show pic
Renault Kangoo

All-new Renault Kangoo van unveiled ahead of 2021 launch

First images of the third-generation Renault Kangoo panel van - which will soon square-up to the new Volkswagen Caddy
12 Nov 2020
New Citroen C3 2020 review
Citroen C3

New Citroen C3 2020 review

The Citroen C3 supermini has been updated for 2020, but have the updates boosted its appeal?
12 Nov 2020