Cadillac’s cars are getting even chattier.
Now they can “talk” to traffic lights to let drivers know when the light is going to turn red, a feature meant to cut down on dangerous last-minute decisions. Cadillac announced this week that it successfully tested the technology, called vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communication.
The V2I test comes after the luxury automaker rolled out a feature to enable vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication back in March, which made its 2017 CTS sedan the first car on the market with the ability to “talk” to other enabled vehicles in its vicinity by sending data about road conditions back and forth through a connected system.
V2I is just a test feature in demo CTS cars for now, as GM’s Research & Development arm is working with Michigan Department of Transportation and the Macomb Country Department of Roads to develop the tech.
Cadillac became the first automaker to introduce a V2V system as a standard feature in one of its models — so it’s not too far-fetched to imagine the new tech coming to the CTS in the near future.
Cadillac tested out the V2I system by rigging two traffic signals near the GM Warren Technical Center campus to send data to its demo CTS vehicles. The automaker said the stop lights were able to use Dedicated Short-Range Communications (DSRC) protocol — which is the same system used for inter-car V2V communication — to send data to the cars about when the light would turn red.
The car was then able to alert its driver if their current speed might create an issue at the intersection.
The V2I setup uses a similar encryption and privacy system as the V2V tech, which Cadillac reps were quick to highlight in a phone interview with Mashable back in March.
Privacy and safety from hackers is a concern for every connected system, but the V2I tech presents another wrinkle with its connection to traffic lights: will drivers wind up triggering an alert every time they accidentally run a red?
Cadillac says that won’t happen. According to the automaker, a traffic signal “may be able to say someone ran a red light, but will not be able to say who or what vehicle,” because no identifying information is ever transmitted by the car.
There’s no timeline for the introduction of the V2I platform in the CTS or any of Cadillac’s other cars, but the automaker’s reps told us it’s “diligently exploring” the possibilities of V2I through the R&D team.
Audi has its own V2I system already available in select 2017 models, but the tech only works in Las Vegas, which highlights one of its biggest shortcomings: the infrastructure around the cars also need to be adapted to take advantage of the innovation.
“There are numerous partnerships required with municipalities to equip appropriate infrastructure,” the Cadillac rep told us in an email, referring to the challenge of building a V2I network. “Unlike V2V where we can control what our car talks to (other cars we build), V2I requires a lot of partnerships or federal mandates to become viable.”
V2I should help to create interconnected smart cities — but for the systems to really grow, more municipalities will need to partner with automakers to build the roads of the future.
UPDATE: May 31, 2017, 7:24 p.m. EDT This article was updated to include the statements from Cadillac’s spokesperson.