We accelerate away from traffic lights, only to brake hard for the next one 500 metres down the road. Or how traffic lights that insist you wait a long time even when the roads are empty in the middle of the night? These scenarios are common in the Klang Valley, and burn away a lot of fuel and time. Audi’s travolution project counters this and aims for a smooth drive by making cars communicate with traffic lights!

This pre-emptive traffic light knowledge allows the driver to save fuel by not having to stop and start at traffic lights. Test runs in 2006 saw fuel consumption reduced by 17%. Then, Audi’s hometown of Ingolstadt saw its traffic lights controlled by a new, adaptive computing algorithm that Audi developed in cooperation with colleges of advanced engineering.

Today, travolution allows for integrated communication between car and the traffic light system, using wireless LAN and UMTS links. 15 test vehicles and 25 sets of traffic lights are being tested in actual traffic conditions. Data transmitted in the form of graphics tell the driver what speed to adopt so that the next traffic light changes to green before the car reaches it, for instance. This speed, which keeps traffic flowing as smoothly as possible, can also be locked in using adaptive cruise control (ACC).

If the car stops at red, drivers would be told the length of time they would be waiting. Or if the lights are about to turn yellow or red, an approaching driver will be warned by a visual or acoustic signal and even a brief interruption to the power flow of the engine.

The implications of such technology is incredible, as according to the the test, drivers can cut fuel consumption of 0.02 litres for every traffic light they stop at. If used throughout Germany, it could lower CO2 emissions by about two million tonnes annually! Besides “chatting” with traffic lights, travolution can even help you to pay online when refueling or parking the car, before you reach the station or car park. Selection and confirmation is done via MMI.