Waiting at traffic lights is the single most tedious part of driving. They always turn red just as you arrive at the intersection, and you always get there at the end of the cycle, so you have to wait for the nine other roads to have their turn before you can go.
It’s hugely frustrating and a gigantic waste of time, potentially costing daily commuters several days every year. But it could soon become a thing of the past, thanks to new “vehicle to infrastructure” technology being trialed by Ford and Jaguar Land Rover in the United Kingdom.
Green Light Optimal Speed Advisory connects the car to whatever traffic lights are up ahead and calculates the speed needed to arrive at the intersection when the lights are green, which is displayed to the driver.
Christian Ress, supervisor, Driver Assist Technologies, Ford Research and Advanced Engineering, said: “Enabling drivers to ‘ride the green wave’ means a smoother, continuous journey that helps to improve the flow of traffic and provide significant reductions in carbon dioxide emissions and fuel consumption.”
Both Ford and JLR are also working on Electronic Emergency Brake Light Assist, which detects if a car up ahead brakes suddenly, even if it isn’t actually in view. Both manufacturers note it would be useful in low visibility conditions. It could also help reduce the concertina effect in heavy highway traffic.
JLR has taken a leaf out of Tesla’s book, as well, with Advanced Highway Assist which can automatically overtake a slower vehicle on multi-lane roads.
The trials are being conducted as part of the UK Autodrive project, a three-year trial of autonomous and connected car technologies. The publicly-funded program is central to the UK government’s plans to turn the country into a global hub for autonomous car development.
JLR is investing heavily in connected and autonomous car technologies. Over the next four years, it will build 100 research vehicles to test the technologies, such as Land Rover's autonomous off-road driving system.
JLR Head of Research, Tony Harper, said: “We know that there’s a huge potential for these technologies in future vehicles around the world. Until now we have focused on communication between Jaguar and Land Rover vehicles, this collaborative approach is a major stepping stone towards all connected and autonomous vehicles co-operating with each other in the future.
“Our aim is to give drivers the right information at the right time and collaborations with other manufacturers are essential to help us deliver this commitment to our customers.”