Talking traffic lights, environment-aware vehicles in the UR:BAN project

May 14, 2014 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
If traffic lights could speak, which language would the use to make sure that vehicles could understand them? An industry consortium of 31 companies, with automotive supplier Continental and aerospace research centre Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR) among them is currently trying to find a solution. The project UR:BAN, designed to develop solutions for safe and efficient urban traffic, provided first insights into demonstration vehicles, simulators, and demo objects at the opportunity of the project's half-time event.


The goal of the project is to develop solutions that provide context-sensitive, predictive and individual support to drivers of passenger cars and commercial vehicles in city traffic. Within this context, DLR is working on a specific aspect of car2x communications. The goal is to devise an instruction format that enables traffic lights to communicate with the cars regardless of make, type or manufacturer. For instance, future traffic lights can pass on information to the cars in the environment; the information could be generated by a 'smart guiding pylone' which could be placed by the police in the case of an accident or a construction site. This smart guiding pylone would connect wirelessly to the traffic light to inform them about the traffic obstruction. The traffic light in turn would send the message to the vehicles in the vicinity, alerting them about the situation and thus contributing to prevent accidents and, if applicable, recommending a deviation.

Another data type contains the remaining time of the red or green phase. Drivers can use this information, to reduce or increase their speed accordingly - in future systems, this adjustment could be done automatically.