Audi’s traffic light timer could revolutionize congested intersections in major cities. Everybody who has driven a car in a major city or its outskirts knows that one of the most annoying things about traffic is not knowing how much longer you’ll be sitting at a red light. You have places to be, and depending on your schedule, you might need to be there soon.
The display sits behind the steering wheel in the Audi Q7, A4, or Allroad vehicles manufactured after June 1 of this year, and thanks to new technology, when you approach a red light it tells you how many seconds you have left to wait. The countdown timer display stops at the four second mark, possibly to give you time to shift back into drive if you were sitting in neutral.
Currently the Audi traffic light timer is being used in Las Vegas, via an interconnected wireless signal. A government network known as Traffic Technology Services determines where you are and what light you’re facing, and “replies” with a traffic light indicator on the dashboard and a number beneath it.
This might also raise some security questions for consumers, as Ubisoft’s Watch Dogs video game series uses a similar system called CTOS, which can be hacked to control traffic, and other more notorious deeds. The game’s protagonist also uses the system to steal money and control cars with his mobile device. The parallels between the video game and TTS might seem a little too consistent for comfort, especially in a time after ex-NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden got in trouble for revealing his former employer’s reach.
On the positive side, the system will eliminate the need for line-of-sight connection, which would be a major problem if you’re stuck behind a large SUV, moving truck, or 18-wheeler.
TTS could also easily cut down on vehicle theft, as the individual VIN could be used to track the Audi anywhere within city limits. Just report the vehicle as stolen and a government agency will find it almost immediately.
According to Engadget, TTS shares data through a complex system of algorithms and data syncing. If you try to run the red light, it’s unclear if anything will happen, but you probably shouldn’t try. It doesn’t appear that the Audi vehicle will shut itself down if the system detects illegal activity.
Obey traffic and applicable laws and you might never find out.
Engadget suggests that you use the red light as an opportunity to take your focus momentarily off the road and possibly adjust the radio settings, check on the kids, or take a sip of your beverage. You might even send a text message if you can do it quickly enough while the car is sitting at the intersection. Leave the Twitter or Facebook feuds for when you’re parked though.
It’s also unknown if the TTS will fix known traffic light issues such as excessively long red lights at empty intersections. Sometimes the light’s sensor isn’t working correctly and fails to register your car. TTS is updated regularly, meaning that any known issues like the latter shouldn’t happen.
The Audi traffic light timer might also edit your GPS if your route is being blocked or held up with construction, or if a traffic accident has caused a temporary shutdown.
Sadly, as PC Magazine states, access to the system is not free. There may be a free trial period, but like with most paid PlayStation online services, you will be charged monthly when that period expires. The least expensive option for the long term is $499 for 18 months, and it comes with Google Earth, Street View, parking availability, gas prices at stations on the grid, and streaming music.
The future is here, and Audi is helping make it a little less stressful.
[Featured Image by Roman.S-Photographer/Shutterstock]