Synchronizing Traffic Lights and Vehicles with BMW and Siemens

Traffic Light

In brief: BMW has been a leader in stop-start technology to reduce fuel consumption and emissions from internal combustion vehicles. Teaming up with Siemens, the companies are planning to synchronize stop lights with stop-start vehicles to make them more efficient.

The word

I like traffic lights.. but only when they're green

Last year, Siemens and BMW presented the idea at the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials conference in California. Since then, they've perfected a prototype which they plan to debut in the near future. They're calling it Car2X.

The vehicles use the already-common on-board sensors that are used to gather information about the engine, drive train, driving conditions, and other aspects of the vehicle's operation in order to perform various calculations for engine adjustments, braking changes, and more.

Using those, Car2X will expand to include networking with nearby vehicles and road/highway components so that things like the timing of a street light at an intersection could be incorporated.

This would allow the car to know when stopping the engine is worthwhile. If the light will be changing in a moment, shutting off the engine to wait is a waste of energy, whereas if the car is the only one inside a certain range, the light could change so the car does not have to stop.

Other inclusions could be street lamps, combined "cloud information" from other vehicles to optimize driving conditions or prevent accidents, and the ability for electric cars to know when they're approaching a light that's pending a change so they can begin regenerative braking.

Overall, the system is still a few years away from seeing any real implementation, but Seimens and BMW will have prototypes for showing later this year.

And so ...

An interesting concept, though given the down-sides (security, privacy), it may have trouble catching on.

Photo credits: Wiki Commons

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