Ford takes a novel approach to greener motoring

If your idea of a perfect drive is one where every red light changes to green as your car approaches, then there’s good news.
Ford is currently testing a system that calculates the optimum speed a driver should maintain in order to pass through the next set of traffic lights on green, rather than have to stop on red.
“There’s not much worse after a long day than to hit one red light after another on the drive home, and be forced to stop and start again at every junction,” said Christian Ress, supervisor, Driver Assist Technologies, Ford Research and Advanced Engineering.
As well as ratcheting up stress levels and eating up precious free time — according to Ford data the average daily driver in the U.K. (where the system is in testing) spends a remarkable two days a year waiting at red lights — it also increases emissions and fuel consumption.
Cars are becoming increasingly connected to each other and the infrastructure around them, and once we hit the tipping point, the possibilities of ‘hacking’ the daily commute or school run also increase significantly.
When all cars are communicative traffic jams and congestion could well be a thing of the past. Real-time updates will help drivers adjust their speed or route while the car will also be able to literally see around corners and avoid collisions with other vehicles.
But this scenario, though science fact, not science fiction, will take many years to become a reality. Ford’s pilot scheme is cleverly getting around the need for miles of sensors and integration.
A roadside unit monitors traffic flows and traffic light timings and uses the info to send a “Green Light Optimal Speed Advisory” alert to a connected car. If the driver wants to avoid the red light, he or she maintains the advised speed.
“Enabling drivers to ‘ride the green wave’ also means a smoother, continuous journey that helps to improve the flow of traffic and provide significant reductions in carbon dioxide emissions and fuel consumption,” Ress said.

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