Vehicle-to-infrastructure company Connected Signals has acquired a patent for technology that would alert a driver about traffic-light status ahead.
 - Photo courtesy of Connected Signals.

Vehicle-to-infrastructure company Connected Signals has acquired a patent for technology that would alert a driver about traffic-light status ahead.

Photo courtesy of Connected Signals.

The U.S. Patent & Trademark Office has awarded Connected Signals with a patent that covers a way to visually communicate speed recommendations that help drivers get through a series of traffic signals without stopping. 

Connected Signals, a provider of predictive real-time traffic signal information, developed the technology to assist with safety, reduce carbon footprint and fuel consumption, as well as ease congestion and improve traffic flow. 

The patented system provides a visual display of speed, or series of speeds, recommended to the driver so that he or she may pass through multiple consecutive traffic lights without having to halt at a red light. 

The Connected Signals' technology features visual options, designed to work with what a motorist responds to best.  For example, in one aspect, the display depicts the expected state of an upcoming traffic light. In another aspect, the display is an icon colored to correspond to the expected state. In yet another aspect, the time remaining before the state of a traffic light changes is displayed. 

The effect that an indicator has on driver behavior is used to determine the type of indicator to provide to the driver. Certain indicators may not be displayed by the system depending on the effect they have on the driver.

The system's colored icons and displays are called "needles" and "arcs" when used in Connected Signals' EnLighten app. EnLighten's speedometer arcs give drivers a legal range of speeds that will let them make the next light — and if the driver keeps the needle in the outer green arc, also make the next light and probably stay in the "green wave" through a series of lights.

When drivers stay in the "green wave," they experience fewer stops and starts, which reduces carbon and fuel consumption and improves traffic flow. The "green wave" experience may also reduce driver stress and frustration.

Other safety benefits appear to be linked to the technology. A recent study reported that the Enlighten app's green arcs moderate drivers' acceleration and/or deceleration while approaching traffic lights. Another preliminary study conducted by Connected Signals in several U.S. cities shows that drivers are less likely to speed through intersections when they can see the arcs — making roadways safer for all users.

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