Audi cars to talk with traffic signals in step toward autonomous vehicles

Audi A4 (Credit: Audi)

Audi announced an upcoming software update that will allow certain models of its cars in the U.S. to communicate with traffic signals.

Audi is working with Traffic Technology Services to collect data from smart city traffic infrastructure and use it to tell drivers how long they can expect to be waiting for the light to turn green. The feature will be available in the 2017 Audi Q7, A4 and A4 all-road models with Audi connect.

Audi anticipates that the service will be running in five large U.S. cities by the end of the year.

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"This feature represents Audi’s first step in vehicle-to-infrastructure integration," said Pom Malhotra, Audi’s general manager of connected vehicles, in a news release, adding that in the future the technology could also be used in vehicle navigation, start and stop functionality and for improving traffic flow.

As Audi put it, this is one of the auto manufacturer’s first moves into vehicle-to-infrastructure communication and, as of now, it’s only being used as a convenience feature. But both automakers and municipalities are likely gearing up for rapid expansion in both the connected car and smart city market sectors.

According to recent predictions from IDC, worldwide spending on autonomous cars is projected to hit $29.6 billion by 2017, and global government spending on smart driving technologies will reach $16.5 billion by 2017.

Meanwhile, U.S. wireless operators have been making strides to strengthen their positions in the connected car market as revenue streams from traditional mobile services have begun to plateau. AT&T has long been looking like a frontrunner in the consumer connected car space and has recently announced initiatives including unlimited data for its customers connected vehicles.

Verizon more recently has been pushing for a foothold in the enterprise mobility market. Earlier this month, the carrier announced it is buying Fleetmatics for $2.4 billion.

For more:
- read this Washington Post article
- read this Reuters article
- see the Audi release

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