It's not like you should ever be on your smartphone while driving, but those who do take their eyes off the road and onto their screens to quickly make a Snapchat lip-syncing car video or text a contact back will know exactly how long they have to do so in select Audi vehicles.
Audi of America announced its plans to roll out technology that will allow its cars to communicate with traffic signals.
Called the Audi Traffic Light Information system, the tech will push live traffic alerts when a light is about to turn green via a countdown located on the dashboard of some of its models. As the vehicle pulls up to the red light, the driver will be able to see how many seconds remain until it's time to hit the gas again. This timer is set to disappear three seconds before the light changes so that drivers don't feel the urge to start racing one another.
This marks the first steps into including the industry's vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) system, the tech that allows traffic signals to transfer data wirelessly to cars via the cloud, into cars on the road.
Audi's traffic sign tech works by using the LTE connection the cars are equipped with to tap into participating cities' central traffic control system servers. The Audi vehicles will then rely on this data as well as GPS technology to display how long it will take the light to turn green.
This will allow drivers to know how long they have to safety turn their attention elsewhere, such as when turning around to their child in their car seat, changing music or even checking their phones — even though the German carmaker discourages doing that. However, even if texting and driving is banned, people will still do it, and this provides a safer way to do so.
"This feature represents Audi's first step in vehicle-to-infrastructure integration," Pom Malhotra, General Manager, Connected Vehicles, said in a press release. "In the future we could envision this technology integrated into vehicle navigation, start / stop functionality and can even be used to help improve traffic flow in municipalities. These improvements could lead to better overall efficiency and shorter commuting times."
Audi said it will start rolling out this traffic light dashboard timer to select vehicles in some major U.S. cities later this fall. Some cities already on board include Las Vegas, Nev., Washington, D.C., Seattle, Wash. and Portland, Ore.
The vehicles will include Audi Q7, A4 and A4 allroad models built after June 1, 2016. Those interested in the tech can add it to their cars via the Audi Connect package that starts at $25 per month. This package also includes other cool features like navigation and infotainment services.
Photo: Matthias Ripp | Flickr