Traffic helper: the smartphone app that tricked red traffic lights

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The smartphone app that tricked red lights

Traffic helper: the smartphone app that tricked red traffic lights-tricked

Red!

Source: picture-alliance / CHROMORANGE

Red wave is frustrating for drivers. A new application on the phone helps to catch green traffic lights. The invention from the USA should be able to do more than just protect your nerves.

D.he request of a car driver that every traffic light shows green is something the SignalGuru smartphone app wants to fulfill. The application is designed to protect drivers from annoying red lights while at the same time relieving the burden on the environment and improving the flow of traffic.

The application, which was developed by US scientists from MIT and Princeton University, uses the camera of smartphones fixed in a holder behind the windshield to see traffic lights from afar.

SignalGuru then tells the driver what speed he has to drive in order to reach the traffic light in a green phase. In test runs with a prototype, the fuel consumption of the vehicles could be reduced by 20 percent, claim the developers. “It’s an important way to cut our gas bills,” says Emmanouil Koukoumidis, the project’s lead engineer.

No hurry to the green light

SignalGuru is installed on a smartphone, which then has to be clamped behind the windshield so that the device’s camera has a clear view of the road. The app can register when a traffic light changes. From this, SignalGuru calculates what speed has to be driven to get to the next intersection when it is green.

The app never advises you to accelerate in order to just barely race across the green. "That would have been too dangerous," says Koukoumidis. But it shouldn’t be driven at a snail’s pace either. The app suggests taking a side street.

Conclusions from user data

In order to be able to give as precise information as possible about the traffic light phases, the app accesses crowdsourcing data: The information from users about the duration of the red or green phases is stored on servers and thus always guarantees accurate calculations. However, this only works in countries with fixed switching intervals.

Constantly starting and braking again at intersections increases the fuel consumption of vehicles. The SignalGuru can not only improve the individual ecological balance of vehicles, the traffic becomes smoother overall, which leads to general fuel savings. The app should be ready for the market soon.

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