BMW claims to be the first carmaker to integrate a new app designed to help urban drivers anticipate traffic signals.
Created by a company called Connected Signals, the EnLighten app shows the current state of a traffic light in front of the car, including a countdown showing the time until the signal changes. It analyzes vehicle speed and position to determine whether or not to stop for a light or try to beat it, and makes those recommendations to the driver. The app also gives an audio alert if the driver is approaching a light that is about to change.
At intersections with dedicated lights for turns, the app can perform similar functions. Flicking a car's turn signal tells the software that the driver is planning to make a turn, and the app analyzes the appropriate parameters.
However, EnLighten only works in cities that have an integrated network of smart traffic signals. So far, the only support cities are Eugene and Portland, Oregon, and Salt Lake City, Utah. Connected Signals says other cities will be added soon.
Systems like EnLighten that give drivers more information about traffic signals are intended to help improve safety by lessening the chance of a driver running a red light, as well as efficiency, by reducing unnecessary acceleration.
While EnLighten is a standalone app run from a smartphone, Audi has demonstrated a version of this concept integrated with a car's infotainment system and even the engine start-stop system. It began testing in Berlin, Las Vegas, and Verona last year, but hasn't discussed production plans.