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Ready. Set. Go! Luxury Cars Count Down to Green Lights

Audi's Traffic Light Information system available in Las Vegas and other U.S. cities.

Put away the smartphone, pay attention to the traffic. That red traffic signal you’re stopped at will be turning green in a few moments.
How do you know this? The car tells you so. That is, if you happen to be driving an Audi on the streets of Las Vegas. 
Traffic Light Information (TLI), an Audi connect PRIME feature, available on select 2017 Audi A4, Q7 & other models, enables the car to communicate with traffic infrastructure in select cities and metropolitan areas across the U.S. The system launched in Las Vegas in late 2016, with other large metropolitan areas to come, according to company officials. 
"At this time TLI is exclusive to the Las Vegas market, however, we will announce additional locations as they become available to our customers, Justin Goduto, a technology and innovation communications spokesman for Audi said.
In Las Vegas, the car receives real-time signal information from the Traffic Management Center, a division of the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada, which oversees more than 1,400 traffic signals in the region. The car receives the signal data via the on-board 4G LTE data connection.
When approaching a connected traffic light, TLI displays the time remaining until the signal changes to green in the driver instrument cluster, as well as the heads-up-display (if equipped). Providing the driver with this additional information helps reduce stress and allows the driver to relax knowing approximately how much time remains before the changing of the light, company officials said.
Loosely called “time-to-green” technology, is an example of how traffic data gathered by connected signal devices is being used by car-makers to put more information in front of drivers in real-time platforms.
“Another priority on the part of local government has been to invest in current technology, and not let systems become obsolete,” said Brian Hoeft, director of the Traffic Management Center at the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada (RTC). “So that allows us to have a traffic signal system — the devices out on the street, the software and then the fiber-optic communications — it’s all current, it’s all very capable. So that allows the information to move back and forth a lot more quickly.”
Traffic Tech Services (TTS), a technology and information provider for the automotive industry, worked with RTC to make the signal data available to Audi’s Traffic Light Information system.
Traffic Tech Services is working with additional cities to do the same, via its Personal Signal Assistant technology, as other car brands like Cadillac explore “vehicle-to-infrastructure” technology using direct connections to traffic signals.
“Currently TTS has about 40 active suppliers and we are constantly adding new agencies each week to begin our service,” said Kiel Ova, chief marketing officer of Traffic Tech Services. “We will be introducing additional agencies in the Denver metro area, Fargo (N.D.) metro area, Kansas City (Mo.) metro area, Philadelphia metro area, Phoenix metro area, and Washington, D.C. metro area this fall.”
The move in Las Vegas fit handily within Nevada’s commitment to embrace new technology in automobiles and transportation. Moving the needle forward when it comes to advancements in transportation — such as autonomous vehicle technology, smart traffic signals and other features is “an effort that we want to have happen,” said Hoeft, who noted Nevada was the first state to issue a public autonomous vehicle testing license to Google in 2012.
“We had an autonomous public shuttle operate on the streets of Las Vegas, and there are plans to do that project again,” Hoeft pointed out.
“We’ve worked with private-sector folks from all over the world. We’ve been in a lot of conferences and discussions nationally on this topic. And one of our attitudes is, get this stuff done, not just talk about it, but let's get it out on the street,” he said.
Skip Descant writes about smart cities, the Internet of Things, transportation and other areas. He spent more than 12 years reporting for daily newspapers in Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana and California. He lives in downtown Yreka, Calif.