Audi Cars Will Be First in U.S. to Communicate With Traffic Lights

Select Audi vehicle models will be able to communicate with traffic lights in several U.S. cities starting this fall, allowing drivers to receive real-time information on traffic systems and providing dashboard countdowns for when lights turn from red to green, the company said Monday.

The German automaker said it aims to tap into “vehicle to infrastructure” technology to offer services down the line that could improve traffic efficiency and alleviate city congestion. Audi of America, the company’s U.S. arm, said the technology will be available in select “smart cities,” though it didn’t identify them by name.

Through a partnership with Traffic Technology Services Inc., Audi’s cars will be able to communicate with the management systems that operate traffic lights. Audi Q7, A4 and A4 all road models built after June 1 will be able to communicate with TTS servers.

“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,” Pom Malhotra, general manager of connected vehicles at Audi, said in a statement. “These improvements could lead to better overall efficiency and shorter commuting times.”

Giving cars the ability to communicate with traffic management systems brings new concerns regarding the security of those connections. Democratic Sens. Richard Blumenthal (Conn.) and Ed Markey (Mass.) wrote to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler this month, calling on the agency head to implement “robust cybersecurity and privacy provisions” for companies hoping to capitalize on vehicle-to-infrastructure and vehicle-to-vehicle communication technologies.

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