Car that ‘talks’ to traffic lights is a glimpse at the hyper-connnected future of driving


This illustration shows how the new smart communications system works (Picture: Seat / SWNS)

The car manufacturer SEAT has invented a system which lets its vehicles talk to traffic lights so the driver knows when they are about to change colour.

It’s Leon car has been connected to Barcelona’s traffic light infrastructure to look at ways of improving road safety, traffic flow and environmental efficiency.

When the Leon approaches a traffic light, an alert appears on the screen saying whether it will be red, green or yellow by the time the car arrives.

It’s able to download real-time traffic data from the cloud which is then displayed on its infotainment system.

The process – which takes just 300 milliseconds – is known as V2I, or ‘Vehicle to Infrastructure’, where connected cars can interact via an internet connection or wireless local area network.

It gives a insight into how connected cars in Britain could eventually communicate with traffic lights and control centres.

The Highways Agency has previously said that ‘co-operative intelligent transport systems’ (C-ITS) will play an important role in the future of Britain’s road infrastructure.

A Seat Leon was connected to Barcelona’s traffic monitoring network (Picture: Seat / SWNS)
Carsten Isensee, acting president and executive vice-president for finance and IT at SEAT, shown inside the new model Leon (Image: Reuters)

Data will be exchanged between connected vehicles, control centres, infrastructure, personal devices, and cloud-based storage.
It is hoped the data sharing will improve traffic flow, improve fuel efficiency and lead to increased safety, while also enabling authorities to broadcast messages to a connected car at any point in the road.

Jordi Caus, head of Urban Mobility Concepts at SEAT, said: ‘Queuing at traffic lights can be a frustrating process and it always feels like a ‘win’ when you manage to time your driving perfectly for when the lights go green.

‘With this project we’re taking a first step to connect cars with overall traffic infrastructure.

‘SEAT’s new connected cars receive real-time traffic information from the Traffic Authority’s central cloud, including information displayed on motorway panels or the traffic light status in cities.

‘The traffic light sends a signal to the Traffic Authority’s cloud about its current status and when it is going to change.

It’s likely that all cars will connect to a centralised traffic system in the future (Photo: EPA)
(Photo: Seat / SWNS)

‘It improves safety by providing advanced information about traffic lights turning red depending on your speed and therefore avoids abrupt braking.

‘This trial showcases how SEAT is looking at ways to use technology and data over human intuition to improve traffic flow, road safety and fuel efficiency.’

The feature only worked when the car was not exceeding the speed limit and should enable motorists to drive more smoothly.
SEAT, which collaborated with the Spanish Traffic Authority, the Barcelona City Council and ETRA on the project, has just officially unveiled the new Leon which is filled with ‘connected’ technology.

The car manufacturer has invested almost £1 billion developing the tech-filled family hatchback, fitting it with a central 10″ infotainment screen, which includes gesture recognition where certain functions can be activated using small finger movements on screen.

It also has a built-in eSIM which allows the eCall service to directly contacts the emergency services in the event of a car accident.2





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