Ford have announced that in February, the auto maker will test technologies under development including “Traffic Light Optimal Speed Advisory.” and “Left Turn Assist”. The tests will be conducted at at the Shanghai International Automobile City, a municipal government initiative that offers real-life settings for automakers to research, develop and test features that could be offered in next-generation vehicles.
Vehicle-to-infrastructure technology would allow your vehicle to talk to traffic lights and understand your distance away from them. While pedestrians often get count downs until they can cross, the car can benefit from the same information. The big difference and advantage is that vehicles and lights could communicate at a distance that allows the vehicle to adapt its speed before you even see the light, by the time you do, it’d be green and you’d sail right through.
Initially the driver would have to use the information and adapt their speed, but as we march towards full autonomy, vehicles would do this automatically. Today some of the smartest cars are using on-board cameras to read and understand information from the road environment and adapt appropriately, but they’re limited by the distance that camera can read. This is great for monitoring and reading objects in the immediate proximity, like a speed zone change, but can’t understand a traffic light kilometers down the road and adjust your speed for a perfect green light run. This would reduce and potentially eliminate the acceleration and braking cycle at each intersection, fuel (petrol or battery) which is an added benefit. The big advantage is elminating the big delays where you’re sitting still, making you feel like you’re not going anywhere, even if other parts of your trip are slower than you’d normally travel.
Left Turn Assist is a feature that uses information exchanged between vehicles to alert drivers of oncoming traffic while making a left turn. It offers an added layer of safety against collision risk in the event the driver’s view is blocked or compromised. Traffic Light Optimal Speed Advisory smartly connects a vehicle to road infrastructure, which enables it to time traffic light data and recommend drivers on a speed range that will optimize fuel economy and traffic flow.
With 280 million vehicle owners, China has become the world’s largest automobile market and that comes with worsening traffic congestion throughout the country. According to data from Shanghai United Road Traffic Safety Scientific Research Center, 89% of side impact accidents in China take place at intersections, reflecting an acute need for collision avoidance technology and features that contribute to a less stressful driving experience.
Ford vice president, Product Development, Asia Pacific, Trevor Worthington said,
“Asking ourselves what would make drivers’ lives less stressful, we continuously explore new features that can help them navigate through traffic more easily and safely,”
“The Shanghai International Automobile City provides a setting where we are able to develop, test and refine
future connected vehicle technologies. We will simulate some of the challenging conditions, knowing that most cars on the road at this time will not be connected. We look forward to using the facility to continue our pursuit of providing a safer and more pleasant driving experience in China.”