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BMW’s nifty new Enlighten app predicts traffic light changes [VIDEO]

Enlighten connects to traffic signal networks and predicts the behaviour of traffic lights by talking to new DSRC systems.


August 6, 2015
by PLANT Staff

PHOTO: FAST COMPANY

PHOTO: FAST COMPANY

MUNICH, Germany — BMW drivers now have a way of knowing exactly when a stoplight is going to change.

Enlighten, which is also available as a smartphone app, connects to the traffic signal network in compatible cities and predicts the behaviour of traffic lights by talking to new Dedicated Short-Range Communication (DSRC) systems being installed on roadways by the US Department of Transportation.

This provides the car (or the app) with information about a city’s traffic management, and it combines with its knowledge of your car’s speed and location (using GPS). If the app can predict the lights, it ping the driver. If not, it remains quiet. Drivers will see a countdown to the next light-change, along with an audible alert.

Along with convenience, there’s also a major safety factor. No longer will users be surprised by a sudden light change to red. And they may be less inclined to try to make a light before it turns red if the countdown shows it’s out of reach.

The smartphone apps, available for both iOS and Android, are quite clever, automatically switching off GPS if the car is out of DSRC range for a while to avoid cell phone battery-drainage. Instead, they rely on cell-tower triangulation.

The system currently works in Portland and Eugene, OR, Salt Lake City, Provo, and Ogden, UT, Greater Las Vegas, NV, and Arcadia and Walnut Creek, CA, and Christchurch, New Zealand.

Check out how the system works in the video below.

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