"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.

Advertisement - Article continues below

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.

Advertisement - Article continues below

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.



Audi e-tron vs Tesla Model X - front
Audi e-tron

Audi e-tron vs Tesla Model X - electric car showdown

Can the all-new Audi e-tron SUV topple the mighty Tesla Model X? We find out in our highly anticipated electric car head-to-head
14 Apr 2019
Audi S7 mild-hybrid - front static

New Audi S6 and S7 to get mild-hybrid diesel power

Both the Audi S6 and S7 are to feature Audi's 3.0-litre V6 TDI engine with a 48-volt hybrid system and an electrically-driven supercharger
11 Apr 2019
Audi Virtual Cockpit - header

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

All-electric Audi e-tron GT spied ahead of official reveal

Audi’s new electric four-door coupe co-developed with Porsche Taycan and will take on Tesla Model S following a 2020 reveal
10 Mar 2020

Most Popular

Hyundai Kona electric front
Hyundai Kona Electric

Hyundai Kona Electric to get increased range from July

UK-delivered Hyundai Kona Electrics will be outfitted with a handful of mechanical revisions, boosting the SUV’s maximum range to 300 miles
18 Mar 2020
Number plates

Banned UK number plates: the 20-plate car registrations too rude for the road

The DVLA has released its bi-annual list of banned UK number plates deemed too distasteful for the road
1 Apr 2020

Fuel stations risk closure as petrol sales fall 75%

Many petrol stations, particularly those in rural areas, will have to close due to poor sales during the coronavirus lockdown
31 Mar 2020