Audi's talking traffic lights tech expands to 10 US cities

Audi's Traffic Light Information system, which puts a countdown to the next green light on your dashboard, is launching in ten more cities across the US, the automaker has confirmed. First launched in 2016, the technology is one of the earliest examples of V2I, or Vehicle-to-Infrastructure, to reach production cars.

Back then, though, you'd need to live in Las Vegas if you actually wanted to use the system. Audi had quietly added support to a number of its vehicles, though the option would only show up in the Virtual Cockpit instrumentation if it could get the data from the local infrastructure.

This week, however, Traffic Light Information (TLI) is now available across more than 2,250 intersections in the US. That includes both Phoenix and Kansas City, Dallas and Houston, Palo Alto and Arcadia in California, Portland in Oregon, Denver, and Washington D.C. It's available in a number of 2017 and 2018 model year cars.

Currently, the functionality is fairly straightforward. As you approach the next set of traffic lights, the car communicates its position with the city infrastructure over the embedded 4G LTE connection. A "time-to-green" indicator is shown on the dashboard, giving an idea as to how long a wait is involved.

"This "time-to-green" information helps reduce stress by letting the driver know approximately how much time remains before the light changes," Audi suggests. However, it's not a countdown to a fast launch. The car won't show the final few seconds, in the hope that drivers don't use it as a drag race launch timer.

Audi's plans for V2I do go beyond just showing when the next green light is. Currently, the information is only used to drive the countdown. However, the automaker suggests, it could use it to power the engine start/stop system more intelligently: only turning the drivetrain off if the length of time the car will be waiting makes it worthwhile.

Other applications could be a so-called Green Light Optimized Speed Advisory (GLOSA), which would recommend the best speed to cruise at in order to sail through each open signal. Audi already uses geographic mapping data to give advice on when to lift off the gas ahead for the most economical drive through upcoming corners. It could also use the green light data to optimize its navigation routing.

Of course, that's all somewhere in the future, and Audi is cautious to say that it could implement the technology that way, not that it necessarily will. For the moment, you'll need to have a compatible Audi and a subscription to Audi connect PRIME in order to get the time-to-green tech.