As cars become more and more connected it won’t be long until they are communicating with each other as well as with the surrounding infrastructure to aid traffic flow as well as safety. In fact, some of the technology is now available.

Audi is the first automaker to launch cars capable of vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communication. Select models from its range, in this case the 2017 A4, A4 Allroad and Q7, are able to communicate with traffic lights to gather information on when the lights are due to switch from red to green. A countdown is displayed in the instrument cluster or, when fitted, in the head-up display.

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The feature, first announced in August, is called Traffic Light Information and right now it’s only applicable in Las Vegas, though more cities should follow. The way it works is that information regarding traffic light sequences is made available to a provider called Traffic Technology Services. This information is then routed to an Audi database which sends it to the vehicles, all in real time.

Eventually, more complex features will be available. For example, it may be possible to integrate information from traffic management systems into engine stop-start systems, navigation systems (to optimize routing), and predictive services such as presenting the driver with a speed recommendation designed to maximize the number of green lights one can make in sequence.

And as vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication is introduced, much more comprehensive features including crash avoidance will be possible. And looking further out, both V2V and V2I communication will prove to be essential components as we continue to move toward a future of self-driving cars.