Car com­pany of­fer­ing red light read­ing ve­hi­cles in Las Ve­gas Picked first-in-the-na­tion

Kuwait Times - - TECHNOLOGY -

LAS VE­GAS: On the the­ory that a driver who knows when a red light will turn green is more re­laxed and aware, ve­hi­cle man­u­fac­turer Audi is un­veil­ing this week in Las Ve­gas a tech­nol­ogy that en­ables ve­hi­cles to “read” traf­fic sig­nals ahead and tell the mo­torist how long the wait will be.

It’s a sim­ple dis­play for the driver - a dash­board traf­fic sig­nal icon and a timer next to the dig­i­tal ve­hi­cle speed and area speed limit dis­plays al­ready com­mon in newer cars. The tech­nol­ogy be­hind it is more com­plex. It uses 4G LTE cel­lu­lar com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween the ve­hi­cle and a cen­tral­ized traf­fic man­age­ment con­trol net­work- dubbed ve­hi­cle-to-in­fra­struc­ture or “V2I.” Audi of­fers it through a sub­scrip­tion ser­vice not un­like com­mer­cial satel­lite ra­dio. The com­pany calls it “traf­fic light in­for­ma­tion.”

Com­pany ex­ec­u­tive Pom Mal­ho­tra terms it “time to green.” “You don’t have to con­stantly stare at the traf­fic light. You have that in­for­ma­tion right in front of you,” Mal­ho­tra told re­porters who test-drove the sys­tem Tues­day in ve­hi­cles on and around Las Ve­gas Strip.

Can’t see the light be­cause there’s a tour bus ahead? No prob­lem. The icon says you have 37 sec­onds. “A lot of be­hav­ior in the car changes,” Mal­ho­tra said. “You have time to re­lax your hands and shoul­ders ... time to hand a milk bot­tle to your child in the back seat ... while know­ing you’re not tak­ing at­ten­tion away from the road.”

Audi and Re­gional Trans­porta­tion Com­mis­sion of South­ern Ne­vada of­fi­cials said Tues­day that Las Ve­gas was picked for the firstin-the-na­tion de­but be­cause it has a sin­gle cen­tral­ized traf­fic man­age­ment cen­ter cover­ing all ju­ris­dic­tions in Clark County, a re­gion nearly the size of New Jersey.

Mal­ho­tra said Audi hopes to ex­pand the sys­tem soon to other big U.S. cities, in­clud­ing places like Los Angeles, which have patch­work traf­fic man­age­ment sys­tems run by vary­ing ju­ris­dic­tions in a sprawl­ing ur­ban land­scape.

The Las Ve­gas-area pro­gram, dubbed the Free­way and Ar­te­rial Sys­tem of Trans­porta­tion, or FAST, col­lects data and syn­chro­nizes 1,300 traf­fic sig­nals in a re­gion home to more than 2 mil­lion peo­ple and host to more than 40 mil­lion tourists a year. It also has 508 cam­eras and free­way flow de­tec­tors, and con­trols 106 mes­sage signs and free­way on-ramp me­ters.

Tina Quigley, trans­porta­tion com­mis­sion gen­eral man­ager, said other car com­pa­nies will be able to tap into the Las Ve­gas data, which she said should im­prove mo­bil­ity and safety par­tic­u­larly in the con­gested Las Ve­gas Strip tourist cor­ri­dor and around McCar­ran In­ter­na­tional Air­port.

About 150 Audi own­ers are us­ing the sys­tem in Las Ve­gas, Mal­ho­tra said. The car com­pany of­fi­cial called the de­but of the com­mer­cial ser­vice “a small step for­ward in V2I,” but a key demon­stra­tion of the kind of tech­nol­ogy that will en­able ve­hi­cle-to-ve­hi­cle com­mu­ni­ca­tion and driver­less cars.

Us­ing cel­lu­lar com­mu­ni­ca­tion for smart car sys­tems dif­fers from ve­hi­cle-to-ve­hi­cle and ve­hi­cle-to-traf­fic sig­nal pro­grams us­ing ded­i­cated short-range com­mu­ni­ca­tion.

DSRC has been tested since 2012 at the Uni­ver­sity of Michi­gan, said De­bra Bezzina, se­nior pro­gram man­ager for the Ann Arbor Con­nected Ve­hi­cle Test En­vi­ron­ment. The uni­ver­sity Trans­porta­tion Re­search In­sti­tute pro­gram is backed by sev­eral fed­eral traf­fic safety, re­search, truck­ing and tran­sit agen­cies, and pi­lot pro­grams are slated for Wyoming, New York and Tampa, Florida. Bezzina said prop­erly equipped ve­hi­cles with DSRC are able to de­tect traf­fic sig­nal phase sig­nals at in­ter­sec­tions. “If the light has turned yel­low, it can tell the driver, ‘You’re not go­ing to make the light,’” Bezzina said.

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