Connected cars to help drivers beat traffic lights

Connected cars to help drivers beat traffic lights
The connected cars of the future could allow drivers to stay one step ahead of traffic lights by providing information on the best speed to travel for a green light.

Ford has announced it is developing technology that will use information on traffic light timings from roadside units to help drivers avoid getting stopped at a red.

Tests on the device are being carried out as part of a government-backed scheme called UK Autodrive – the largest trial of self-driving and connected technology in the country.

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The £20 million initiative is aimed at developing and trialling vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle‑to‑infrastructure technologies that could make driving less stressful and time-consuming, as well as improving fuel efficiency 

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According to Ford, the development could bring significant benefits to both drivers and the environment.

Christian Ress, of Ford Research and Advanced Engineering, said: “There’s not much worse after a long day than to hit one red light after another on the drive home, and be forced to stop and start again at every junction.

“Enabling drivers to ‘ride the green wave’ also means a smoother, continuous journey that helps to improve the flow of traffic and provide significant reductions in carbon dioxide emissions and fuel consumption.”

Daily drivers in the UK alone spend two days each year waiting at red lights, and similar technologies already enable cyclists in Copenhagen and Amsterdam to avoid red lights.

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If drivers find hitting a red light unavoidable the system displays how long is left until the light turns green.

The Mondeo Hybrid cars provided by Ford are also trialling Emergency Electronic Brake Lights, which warn when a vehicle up ahead suddenly brakes hard – even if the incident occurs out of sight – up to a distance of 500 metres.

Technologies that will be trialled next year also warn drivers when another vehicle is blocking the junction ahead; when an ambulance, police car or fire truck is approaching; and prioritises vehicles arriving at intersections without traffic signs or traffic lights.

Trials are taking place on both public roads and closed circuits in Milton Keynes and Coventry during the next two years.

Copyright Press Association 2016. Motoring News articles do not reflect the RAC's views unless clearly stated.