Ford plans to eliminate red lights

Car-to-infrastructure communication would let a car see only greens

Published: October 23, 2016, 10:30 PM
Updated: October 26, 2016, 4:36 AM

Green Light Optimal Speed Advisory

Have you ever wondered how come when you’re in a hurry, driving somewhere, all the traffic lights seem to turn red against you? That could be a thing of the past, if Ford has its way.

One of the benefits of the connectivity to make autonomous driving a reality, is the car-to-infrastructure communication that would also allow the car to only encounter green lights. Currently being tested in Ford cars, Green Light Optimal Speed Advisory uses information on traffic light timing from roadside units and relays it to the car to advise the driver at the best speed to maintain in order to “ride the green wave.” And if a red light is unavoidable, the message will tell the driver how long before the light turns green.

Estimates peg the cumulative time UK drivers wait at red lights at about two days per year.

“There’s not much worse after a long day than to hit one red light after another on the drive home, and be forced to stop and start again at every junction,” said Christian Ress, supervisor of Driver Assist Technologies, Ford Research and Advanced Engineering. “Enabling drivers to ‘ride the green wave’ also means a smoother, continuous journey that helps to improve the flow of traffic and provide significant reductions in carbon dioxide emissions and fuel consumption.”

Emergency Electronic Brake Lights

The testing is part of the £20 million Autodrive project, the UK’s largest self-driving and connected-car trial to develop the technologies that will make driving less stressful and time-consuming, as well as improve driving and fuel efficiencies.

Another technology, this one a car-to-car communication called Emergency Electronic Brake Lights, warns of a vehicle ahead suddenly applying the brakes, even one out of sight and as far ahead as 500 metres.

Other technologies coming in the future would warn drivers of a vehicle blocking an intersection, when an emergency service vehicle is approaching, and even handles 4-way stops or when traffic lights are out due to power outages, managing traffic flow in priority according to the laws of the road.

Real-world trials on current and future technologies are taking place on public roads and on closed circuits, depending on the advancement of the technology.