German automaker Audi will soon be integrating a traffic light timer in select vehicles that’ll show drivers how much time is left before the red light they’re stuck at turns green.
The timer, which will reside alongside the speedometer and other vital information in the dash behind the steering wheel, will count down how much time is remaining before the light turns green. It won’t go all the way down to zero (apparently to discourage racing), instead turning off a few seconds before the light turns.
Pom Malhotra, general manager of connected vehicles for Audi, said at a press event in San Francisco that the timer will reduce the anxiety and stress of sitting in traffic. Knowing how much time is left could allow a driver to change the radio station, contemplate a route change or turn around and check on their kid in the back seat, the executive noted.
Malhotra said that they do not encourage the use of smartphones behind the wheel but added that if there’s a time to do it, it’s when you’re stopped. At least he isn’t totally oblivious to the fact that people are going to use this feature to play on their smartphones (something people already do anyway).
Traffic light information won’t come complementary, however, as the German automaker is planning to serve up the data as part of its paid Connect Prime service that could set you back as much as $33 per month.
The rollout will be slow (after all, there are more than 300,000 traffic lights in the US) as the automaker will need to work with each city to tap into their traffic light infrastructure. The company expects to offer the feature in seven cities by the end of the year and 50 percent of its equipped vehicles by the end of 2017.
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