Audi travolution or how vehicles communicate with traffic light systems

Article by Christian Andrei, on August 25, 2010

A fully autonomous car may not be that far out if we consider the advances that the automotive and electronics industries have achieved. We've seen how there have been systems developed that enable cars to communicate with other elements, including other cars, pedestrians, and road signs. Audi has always had its eye on making a car more efficient.

So far, Audi has focused on producing better engines, suspensions and body work. But the most daring so far is the travolution, Audi's car-to-traffic signal communication system. The travolution is still under development and is currently testing in Ingolstadt.

This system is intended to cut the time spent at a standstill or accelerating by communicating with the traffic signals. Travolution uses wireless LAN and UMTS links to talk to the traffic signs and ask them about the color change time. The traffic signals transmit data, converted by the system into a graphic.

The driver sees what speed to use so that the next traffic light changes to green before the car reaches it. If a car is at a red traffic light, the driver is told how much time is left before the light turns green.

The driver can consume fuel of up to 0.02 liters for every traffic-light stop. This system also reduces the CO2 levels of about two million tons,equivalent to a reduction of approximately 15% in CO2 from motor vehicles in urban traffic.

Audi has always been guided by its principle of 'Vorsprung durch Technik' in creating efficient cars. However for Audi, it is not just about making an efficient car. It aims to make sure that the whole journey is just as efficient.

This is the reason why Audi’s development team also studies the traffic system. The automaker started the travolution project which brings out the notion of cars communicating with traffic signals. Since it allows for a reduction in the time spent whether the car is accelerating or even at a standstill, fuel consumption is lowered significantly.

Audi has invited traffic planners and journalists to conduct various demonstration runs in order to assess its travolution project. The testing is to be done in Ingolstadt. Audi had originally conducted a travolution project back in 2006 and the result then was that when waiting times at traffic signals were reduced, it caused a 17% drop in fuel consumption.

Meaning that for one year, the car would be able to save fuel worth 700,000 liters or about 184,920.44 US gallons. A new yet adaptive computing algorithm has been controlling the traffic lights in Ingolstadt.

This algorithm was developed by the brand and its various partners who are from colleges that offered business and industry courses and even advanced engineering degrees. With the current travolution project, Audi takes it one step even further.

Through the use of UMTS or wireless LAN, the new travolution will now allow the car a more direct way of communicating with the traffic light systems. In order to determine if it works under real-life conditions, fifteen of its test vehicles have gotten permission to test the system on 25 traffic lights in Danube.

Press Release

Audi travolution: efficiently through the city

Building highly efficient cars is one aspect of Audi's 'Vorsprung durch Technik' – making sure that they can be used for efficient journeys is another. The development teams at Audi see the task in its entirety, and examine the complete road traffic system. Their travolution project is a concept for a dialogue between cars and traffic signals. It reduces the amount of time spent at a standstill or accelerating, and in this way cuts the vehicles' fuel consumption. Today, journalists and traffic planners are testing travolution on demonstration runs in Ingolstadt.

The results obtained during the first travolution project in 2006 were immediate and dramatic: reduced waiting times at traffic signals cut fuel consumption by 17 percent. In a full year this would save as much as 700,000 litres (184,920.44 US gallons) of fuel. The secret of this success: the traffic signals in Ingolstadt are controlled by a new, adaptive computing algorithm that Audi developed in cooperation with partners at colleges of advanced engineering and in business and industry.

Audi has now developed travolution still further, by enabling vehicles to communicate directly with traffic light systems, using wireless LAN and UMTS links. 15 test vehicles and 25 sets of traffic lights now permit the system to be sampled in actual traffic conditions in the city on the Danube.

The traffic signals transmit data that are processed into graphic form and shown on the car's driver information display screen. The graphics tell the driver for instance what speed to adopt so that the next traffic light changes to green before the car reaches it. This speed, which keeps the traffic flowing as smoothly as possible, can then be selected at the adaptive cruise control (ACC) – but the driver can also delegate this task to the car's control system.

If the car is stopped at a red traffic light, this transmits information via the car's computer on how long the driver will have to wait before it switches to green again. If on the other hand the car approaches a traffic light that is about to switch to yellow or red, the driver is warned by a visual or acoustic signal, or by a brief interruption to the flow of power from the engine.

When the car is part of a network in this way, the driver can reduce the amount of time spent at a standstill and cut fuel consumption by 0.02 of a litre for every traffic-light stop and subsequent acceleration phase that can be avoided. The potential is enormous: if this new technology were applied throughout Germany, exhaust emissions could be lowered by about two million tonnes of CO2 annually, equivalent to a reduction of approximately 15 percent in CO2 from motor vehicles in urban traffic.

The travolution system also makes it possible to pay online when refueling or parking the car. The car itself communicates with the stationary equipment at the filling station or parking garage. When the driver confirms the charge via the Multi Media Interface MMI, it is automatically debited from the customer's account or credit card.

To demonstrate the progress that travolution development work has made, Audi has organised talks and demonstration runs for journalists and traffic planners on June 2, 2010 in Ingolstadt, with the aim of illustrating the potential offered by networking cars with the traffic infrastructure.

Topics: audi, technology

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