Improving Traffic Signal Timing to Reduce Fuel Consumption
Cars and light trucks burning fossil fuels account for nearly 19 percent of all U.S. domestic energy consumption and these vehicles burn more petroleum than the country produces annually. In 2009, drivers traveled more than 2 trillion vehicle miles on urban roadways, which comprised two thirds of all miles driven nationwide. Unlike their rural counterparts, these roadways are dotted with traffic signals and their timing and flow can significantly impact how much time drivers spend on the road as well as their fuel consumption. Providing real-time, predictive traffic signal information to vehicles offers the potential to reduce urban fuel consumption by 8 to 15 percent, according to BMW, Toyota, and Audi estimates.
Connected Signals (CS) is the leading provider of predictive real-time traffic signal data. The company uses existing infrastructure to connect to more than 10,000 signals from over 100 municipalities in the United States, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand, with many more coming online in the coming months. CS predictive signal information is available to drivers in BMW vehicles in select cities, and more widely through its EnLighten smartphone app.
Knowing the current state of traffic lights and how they will change creates opportunities to increase fuel efficiency, enhance driving safety and improve the driving experience. This project will draw on the unique capabilities at Argonne National Laboratory to demonstrate the benefits of real-time signal-state information for vehicles and drivers, enabling industry participants to work together for the health and safety of our cities and the environment.
PROJECT INNOVATION + ADVANTAGES
The major challenges to industry participants in real-time signaling projects are access to traffic signal data and characterization of the energy benefits of the technology. The two challenges are related: cities are more likely to provide data if they are convinced that there are environmental, economic, and safety benefits to their residents in doing so, and customers–such as original equipment manufacturers and map data providers–are more likely to participate if they believe that their products will be more valuable to their customers if they acquire the data.
When consumers save money on fuel, they spend more in other parts of the economy, including the service sector, which tends to provide a boost to local job creation.
This project can have significant benefits for the environment through reduced energy use and greenhouse gas emissions via eco-approach and departure at signalized intersections.
Successful deployment will increase safety, both through higher driver situational awareness when stopped at lights, and through signal-approach information. A one percent reduction in vehicle fuel consumption results in a 1.3 percent reduction in U.S. oil imports. The impact of such improvements will be greater in the future, since the total number of miles Americans drive is projected to increase 40 percent by 2035.
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