The Times, 22 October 2016,
The frustration of continually coming to a halt at traffic lights could be eradicated by technology that guides cars down roads without hitting red signals.
Ford is trialling an in-car system that uses information on traffic light timings to speed or slow vehicles well ahead of signals, making sure they always meet them on green.
The technology is being developed as part of the £20 million government-backed UK Autodrive project, which is also responsible for the development of driverless cars.
There is concern that a sharp increase in the number of traffic lights in towns and cities is fuelling congestion and increasing journey times. It is estimated that regular drivers spend the equivalent of two days every year stuck at red lights.
Earlier this year, a report from the Institute of Economic Affairs found that 80 per cent of traffic lights could be scrapped without making roads more dangerous.
Christian Ress, an expert in driver assist technologies for Ford, said: “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.
“Enabling drivers to ‘ride the green wave’ means a smoother, continuous journey that helps to improve the flow of traffic and provide significant reductions in carbon dioxide emissions and fuel consumption.”
The company is developing technology to be fitted to traffic lights that emits a wi-fi signal to show when signals are about to turn from red to green.
As part of the “green light optimal speed advisory”, this information would be relayed to the car’s inbuilt sat-nav. The driver would then be told which speed to travel at to maximise their chances of hitting green.
The system will also tell motorists stopped at a red light how long they will have to wait for green.
The company is also trialling a system to warn motorists of cars braking sharply ahead. The emergency electronic brake lights system uses wi-fi signals in cars that indicate when it brakes sharply. This can be picked up to 500 metres away so cars can change their speed in advance. Trials are taking place in Milton Keynes and Coventry over the next two years.