New Audis Know How Long Red Lights Last

Good luck beating that A4 in the stoplight grand prix.

Audi Red lights

Starting in a few months' time, select Audis will tell drivers how long a red light will last. That may not seem groundbreaking—but it marks the first production implementation of a form of technology that could redefine the way we drive.

Audi's traffic light whisperer is the first production example of a vehicle-to-infrastructure, or V2I, system to be implemented by a major carmaker in the United States. Developed in concert with Traffic Technology Services, an Oregon-based automotive industry information provider specializing in predictive analysis and data crunching of traffic signals, the system allows properly-equipped Audis to talk with the system that manages traffic lights and figure out how long until the crimson light goes verdant.

When stopped at a smart traffic light, rivers twiddling their thumbs in their fancy new Audis will see a countdown appear in the instrument panel, as well as in the head-up display if they checked that box on the order sheet. The basics of the system are baked into all 2017 model year Audi Q7, A4, and A4 allroad models built after June 1st of this year, but the system won't go online until later this fall, when the carmaker rolls out its Audi connect PRIME services.

Of course, not every traffic light in the nation is intelligent enough to talk to the Audi staring at it with angry LED eyes; the system will only work in cities and towns with traffic management system packing with the appropriate equipment. Audi didn't make clear how many places the system will work at launch;The Los Angeles Times is claiming it will work at launch in Seattle, Las Vegas, Washington D.C., and Portland, Oregon, among other cities, but we've reached out to the carmaker for more information.

While not as glamorous as cars that can drive themselves, vehicle-to-infrastructure communication is expected to play an important role in a future full of autonomous vehicles. By letting self-driving cars and trucks talk with the infrastructure that supports them and plan ahead with omniscient split-second precision, experts believe the flow of traffic could be greatly streamlined—with some brainiacs suggesting we could even ditch traffic lights altogether in due time.

Audi has released a brief video showing the basics of how the traffic light information system will work; you can check it out below.