They're the bane of city drivers everywhere: those traffic lights that invariably turn to red just as you approach, making even the shortest journey a stop-start affair.
But now a German car-maker has come to the rescue – with a device that ensures you can always arrive at a light when it is green.
The in-car gadget tells drivers how fast to go in order to sail through a junction by ‘speaking’ to special transmitters fitted inside a traffic signal that can be up to 300 yards away.
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How the device will beat the red light queues
It arrives at the calculation after plotting the car’s position and approach route, then displays the optimum speed on a screen.
Audi, which has developed the device called Travolution, claims extensive trials have been so successful that in one phase of testing, cars nearly always hit a light on green.
The car-maker also says the system will benefit the environment by cutting exhaust emissions because fewer cars will be stationary at lights – and it will improve fuel economy by ending stop-start inefficiency.
But it admits the technology will not benefit the driver if the roads are particularly clogged.
Travolution works on Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) technology and can be fitted to any car make.
During two years of tests in Audi’s home town of Ingolstadt, Bavaria, 46 ‘intelligent’ sets of traffic lights were programmed to connect wirelessly with an Audi A5 coupé and A6 Avant estate carrying Travolution.
One test involving three busy junctions found that drivers were hardly ever made to stop on red, according to the car-maker.
Travolution was initially developed by the Technical University of Munich in conjunction with traffic technology firm GEVAS.
Professor Fritz Busch, of the university, said: ‘The new approaches to network-wide control of traffic lights, together with communication between traffic lights and intelligent cars, exploits a potential for improving traffic flows that has previously gone untapped.’
Kate Dixon of Audi UK said that if a minimum of ten per cent of cars in any given town were fitted with the technology, all road users would notice an improvement in traffic levels.
Ms Dixon added: ‘Obviously, if the traffic is solid then Travolution won’t assist you. But if the traffic is moving slowly then it will advise you what speed to maintain in order to avoid stopping.’
Audi said it was too early to say how much the device would cost if it is put into mass production. Further tests are expected next year.
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