I pulled out the latest issue of Green Futures for a bit of light relief. It instantly lifted my mood as it reminded me just… how exciting sustainability issues can be.
A new piece of in-car technology could see the rush to the red light become a thing of the past – and reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in the process.
It’s called the Audi Traffic Light Assist. Essentially, it uses Wi-Fi to connect to a city’s smart traffic light system and displays the speed you should be driving at to get through the next light. Ideally it would mean drivers will no longer accelerate needlessly, burning gas and CO2.
Audi has trialled the system in Ingolstadt, Bavaria, home of its headquarters. “It’s still very much a work in progress”, says David Ingram, PR Manager for Audi UK. “But the initial trial results were positive. The estimate is that it will reduce CO2 emissions at traffic lights by 15%. Given that 20% of the 50 million tonnes of CO2 that is emitted by German cars each year is created by stopping at traffic lights, it could well be significant.” Audi is currently in the process of testing the system in Berlin and Verona, and plans to test it in the US soon.
Mark James, a journalist on popular motoring website UK Car News, broadly welcomed the system but pointed out that its success depends on whether governments and local authorities are prepared (and can afford) to invest in the infrastructure required to make it work. “Certainly in the UK we’re seeing expenditure from the local authorities capped. What perceived benefit do they see from [the investment]?”
Nonetheless, James admits it’s a “bold move” – one that could set Audi apart as a market leader in behaviour change technology to reduce fuel consumption. “Here is a manufacturer that’s not just looking at how to reduce a particular model’s fuel consumption or even across a range but for other manufacturers as well. It’s got potential to provide massive fuel and CO2 savings,” he says.
Photo credit: Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock