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Ford testing smart traffic light tech to help emergency services

Published Apr 1, 2022

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Detroit - Ford has started tests on connected traffic light technology to help clear paths for emergency services.

The company has been trailing the new road control system which can automatically turn traffic lights green for incoming ambulances, fire engines and police vehicles.

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The smart system is being set up in a bid to clear the road for situations where traffic impedes the response of emergency services.

The new system could potentially also send timing information of the red and green lights to other automobiles in order to help improve the flow of incoming traffic at times like rush hour.

Martin Sommer - research engineer, Automated Driving Europe, Ford of Europe - said: "Whether it’s a fire engine attending a blaze or an ambulance that is en route to an accident, the last thing anyone wants is for these drivers to be caught up among other vehicles waiting for the lights to change."

The trial, which was part of a broader project to help improve congestion, tested automated and connected vehicles as well as networked infrastructure in highway, urban and rural areas.

Ford are committed to using connectivity and innovation to help improve the driving experience on the roads.

The test, which was carried out just outside the city of Aachen, Germany, used a road with eight consecutive traffic lights as well as two stretches with three consecutive traffic lights.

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The Ford Kunga Plug-in Hybrid test car, was equipped with on board units, that were responsible for communicating with the infrastructure, as well as rapid control prototyping hardware, responsible for running the prototype software in the vehicle. They acted as an ambulance as well a passenger vehicle for different scenarios.

When testing daily driving situations, the test car would receive timing information for when the lights changed from red to green and vice versa. Based on the information the cruise control system would adapt the speed to ensure a higher proportion of the journey was encountered by green lights.

The cruise control also adjusted the speed for when the lights were red to ensure the car arrived at the exact moment the lights turned green.

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When testing for emergency responses on the other hand, the vehicle would signal to the traffic lights to turn green which would then return to standard operations once the car passes the threshold.

Cellular-Vehicle-to-Everything is the technology used to connect the cars to the infrastructure and other road users.

Michael Reinartz, director, Consumer Services and Innovation, Vodafone Germany, said : “Exchanging data between cars, emergency vehicles and traffic lights in real time using the latest mobile phone technology makes road traffic safer and more efficient,

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“Intelligent traffic light control helps save lives when every second counts and also reduces unnecessary waiting times and cuts CO2 emissions.”

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