To paraphrase the old saying, “As Audi goes, so goes the rest of the nation.” We are not referring to an impending mandate for all drivers to wear pretentious leather driving gloves, nor to increasing interest in the regions and soil patterns of Australian white wines. Believe it or not, we have an automotive fact to center this rigmarole around: the ability to never get stuck at a red light again.
A few weeks ago, Audi unveiled a system that allows its cars to talk to a city’s traffic light system. After all, computers control the traffic lights, and there’s a computer in your car, so add a walkie-talkie and communication should be a go. Now Honda, too, is announcing that it has 100 vehicles testing out this idea in a regular commuting area.
The system—which tells you how fast to go to make the next light, as well as when it’s about to turn red—is aimed to improve the flow of traffic and save fuel. Instead of speeding up only to brake two seconds later when the light turns yellow, drivers will know how to better manage their travel. The system should also show drivers when they have no chance of beating the light, thus reducing intersection collisions.
Even better, the system will allow cars to communicate not only with the traffic grid, but also with other cars. If you’re tempted to push a yellow light, and can’t see that another car might be approaching the intersection as well, your Honda might be able to see this and warn both of you. Like a parent who uses his or her invaluable passenger-side foot brake, the Honda system will beep out, “Slow down, for heaven’s sake!” and peace will be attained by all.
The purpose of Honda’s 100-car test will be to see if the system results in any real-world improvements to fuel consumption, traffic flow and/or a reduction in collisions, though that last one is awfully hard to quantify. With any luck, a more intelligent form of driving will be produced and introduced to production models.