Spanish carmaker SEAT is working on developing a new technology that will enable cars to connect with traffic signals and traffic control centres, which will allow drivers to better anticipate traffic status. For this project the carmaker has collaborated with the Spanish Traffic Authority, the Barcelona City Council and ETRA. The system will essentially send information directly to the vehicles on the road, sharing details like the colour of the next traffic signal on the route and what the colour of the signal will be by the time the vehicle reaches it at the current speed. This is useful if it is about to change to red, as drivers can begin to decelerate before reaching the traffic light. The system can also be used to alert drivers about any motorway incidents like road accidents.
Speaking about the technology, Jordi Caus, the Head of Urban Mobility Concepts at SEAT said, "In this project, 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 vehicles used for the pilot project was equipped with the technology to connects with its surroundings and receive information uploaded by the Traffic Authority to the cloud, which in turn enables the driver to anticipate what lies ahead in real-time. SEAT says that the new technology brings cars and infrastructure together via the cloud using cellular technology with latency times of 300 milliseconds.
So how does it work? Well, when the vehicle is approaching a traffic signal the driver gets an alert on the car's display showing whether it will be red, green or yellow when it arrives. The system tells you this by performing a calculation based on how far away the car is and the speed at which it's travelling. As a safety measure, the system only works when the car is within the speed limit and will stop sending alerts if the driver exceeds the limit.
Currently, 2,000 information panels provide drivers with traffic and weather conditions or information about road work or accidents. With this system, all of this information is displayed directly on the screens of connected vehicles at any point of the road network. Also, the more informed the driver is about the road situation, lesser is the risk of an unwanted incident. Addressing this aspect, Jorge Ordas, deputy director of Mobility and Technology at the Spanish Traffic Authority said, "We are aiming for a significant reduction in the number of accidents, less vehicle traffic and therefore, a positive effect on the environment".