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BMW brings Enlighten real-time signals app into car

The BMW Group is the first manufacturer to bring the EnLighten App, by Connected Signals, into the car. Drivers of BMW Vehicles with iOS Devices will be able to see traffic signal data on the vehicle’s display in real time. The EnLighten app makes driving in cities easier by helping the driver anticipate traffic signal changes, which can increase safety and help save fuel by avoiding unnecessary acceleration.

The EnLighten app shows the current status of the traffic light in front of the car in real time as well as a countdown to when the signal will change. Based on the current vehicle position, as well as its speed, the EnLighten app offers a recommendation about whether or not to stop for the traffic light or proceed through. An audio alert notifies the driver about a pending change in the signal they are approaching.

When EnLighten is able to predict the behavior of the light in front of the car, it can tell the driver using a variety of different countdowns, depending on the current situation. These include an exact countdown, as shown above, which indicates precisely when the light will change, or a minimum time to change, indicated as a number with a plus sign.

When connected to the BMW’s display, EnLighten provides more information about the state of upcoming lights. In particular, the Green Light Assist feature illuminates the arrow(s) below the traffic signal indicator(s) if continuing at the current speed will allow the driver to arrive at the light when it is green, regardless of its current state (which is shown by the traffic signal indicator). Click to enlarge.

At intersections where there are dedicated traffic signals for turns, the activation of the vehicle’s turn indicator tells the app of the driver’s intention to turn so that only the status of the relevant signal is displayed.

In order for the EnLighten app to work it requires a city to have an integrated network of smart traffic signals. Supported cities currently are Portland and Eugene, OR and Salt Lake City, UT, offering more than 2.000 traffic lights. More cities will follow.

The basic mobile phone app uses cellphone GPS systems, which are typically noisy and not particularly accurate—i.e., it can be difficult to determine exactly where a user is and how fast he or she are going. This can be an issue when trying to determine which light a user is approaching, and presents even greater problems when trying to detect when a red light is being (or is about to be) run, where false positives could be distracting.

Connected Signals developed advanced techniques for localization that help address these issues. For vehicle-based applications, such as with BMW, even more accuracy can be achieved by obtaining information from the vehicle systems (GPS, speedometer, turn signals, brake pedal status, etc.).

The EnLighten app integration will work in any BMW equipped with the BMW Apps option with the app running on a connected Apple iPhone.

This app has been specially certified by the BMW Group for safe in-car use. The app uses the BMW Group’s A4A (Apps for Automotive) technology and can be downloaded for iOS-based devices from the Apple App Store. Having connected their smartphone to the car via the USB socket or snap-in adapter and launched the app, users are presented with its various functions via the iDrive Controller, the Control Display and the car’s audio system. To use the app in BMW models, the BMW ConnectedDrive Services option needs to be specified.

With the aim of enabling safe and comfortable use of apps in cars, the BMW Group was an early driver of smartphone integration and has already certified numerous apps for access in BMW vehicles. These apps have been optimized for use during a journey, can be operated via the iDrive Controller without distracting the driver and are viewed in the Control Display respectively.



I suppose they are putting more parts of an autonomous car in place and getting them out in the field for real testing.

As a driver, I am not sure I would want all that extra information, but they need to see how the system works, so I would see this as a feature testing Trojan Horse.

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