End of the road for red lights?

October 24, 2016

Imagine if you could drive the kids to school or commute to work without ever hitting a single red traffic light.

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Technology that could advise of the best speeds to drive at in order to hit every green light is currently being trialled with our cars, making “riding the green wave” a day-to-day reality.

Two Mondeo Hybrid cars are helping to demonstrate the benefits of connected cars for UK Autodrive – the country’s largest self-driving and connected car trial. The trial looks at vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure technologies for automated and semi-automated driving, including Green Light Optimal Speed Advisory technology.

For this technology, traffic information is sent from a roadside unit to the connected car, along with the timing of traffic light changes. The driver is then shown a display of the optimal speed to drive for the best chance of hitting each green light.

“There’s not much worse after a long day than hitting one red light after another on the drive home, and being forced to stop and start again at every junction,” said Christian Ress, Ford‘s Driver Assist Technologies expert.“Helping drivers to ‘ride the green wave’ can improve  traffic flow and would mean significant reductions in carbon dioxide emissions and fuel consumption.”

Daily drivers in the UK alone spend two days each year waiting at red lights, and similar technologies already enable cyclists in Copenhagen and Amsterdam to avoid red lights; across Europe, sensors or timers already synchronise traffic lights on busy streets to improve traffic flow.

UK Autodrive is also trialling a technology that provides advanced warning when a vehicle up ahead suddenly brakes very hard, even if it is not visible to the driver.

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From next year it will also be investigating technologies that: warn drivers when another vehicle is blocking the junction ahead; inform drivers when an ambulance, police car or fire truck is approaching; prioritise vehicles arriving at intersections without traffic signs or traffic lights.
Trials are taking place on both public roads and closed circuits in Milton Keynes and Coventry during the next two years.