Audi in the simTD large-scale test study: the “traffic light info online” project

On the road, automobiles are more efficient, convenient and safe if they communicate with the driver, infrastructure and other cars. Audi is promoting networking of its models on all levels under the key word “Audi connect.” In the large-scale, country-wide simTD test study, conducted over the past four years in the vicinity of Frankfurt am Main, the brand with the four rings has acquired important knowledge – including in the project “traffic light info online.” The results of this field study are now being presented to the public.

A total of 17 consortium partners participated in simTD (safe and intelligent mobility, test field Germany) – including six carmakers. It was one of the largest projects of its kind in the world. Audi assumed responsibility for what is known as requirements analysis, which served as the basis for the project’s basic framework. In addition, engineers at the brand directed several individual projects – including the traffic light phase assistant, road preview and extended navigation. Audi participation was rounded out by its work in the area of the intersection assistant. The Audi test fleet consisted of 20 vehicles.

In the traffic light phase assistant project, 20 traffic light systems in the vicinity of Frankfurt am Main were retrofitted so that the test fleet could communicate with them. The goal of developers was to achieve the most efficient flow of traffic in metropolitan areas. Audi contributed from its extensive knowledge base that was acquired in its travolution project. That project was started back in 2006.

Information from the traffic light systems is transmitted to the car and visualized as graphic images on the driver information system display. They show the driver the speed to select in order to reach the next traffic light during a green phase. Acoustic signals also warn the driver in advance of red phases. Remaining time information that is shown in the display assists in waiting for green.

Audi has already completed the next development step, which goes beyond the project scope of simTD. Here, the cars are connected to the central traffic control computer via UMTS. This makes it unnecessary to convert the traffic lights themselves. 35 units of the Audi A1 e-tron, which are participating in the “Showcase for Electric Mobility” initiative by the German federal government, already utilize an advanced version of this new technology.

Traffic light info online enables CO2 reductions of up to 15 percent. In sum, this would be equivalent to about 900 million liters (237.75 million US gallons) of fuel per year, if this technology were to be implemented throughout Germany. It has reached the stage of market readiness. Today, Audi is already seeing a lot of interest among cities and communities.

In the simTD large-scale test study, initiated in autumn 2008, six German carmakers, two large suppliers, a communications company and several scientific and public institutes are working closely together to acquire comprehensive knowledge about Car-to-X communication. The project was sponsored by the German federal ministries for Economy and Technology, Education and Research and Transport, Building and Urban Development.

Over the course of the six-month practical phase, after which the project has now come to an end, the total of 500 test drivers in 120 cars and three motorcycles covered a total of 1.65 million kilometers (1.03 million miles). The vehicles were networked with one another via specially developed radio transmission equipment and via a traffic control center to inform drivers of traffic conditions and hazards.