Can Smartphones Increase Fuel Efficiency?

Posted on September 6, 2011 by LCT Magazine

A research team from MIT and Princeton University, led by Emmanouil Koukoumidis, has created a system that uses dashboard-mounted smartphones to collect information about traffic signals and tell drivers when slowing down could help them avoid waiting at lights. In tests conducted in Cambridge, Mass., the system helped drivers cut fuel consumption by 20% because it reduced to the need to idle at a red light and accelerate from a standstill.


The system, dubbed SignalGuru, not only predicts the amount of time (in seconds) until an oncoming light will turn green or red, it also suggests the optimal speed for catching a light (see screenshot above). This may mean driving at a steady speed to cruise through an intersection before a light turns red, or slowing down before reaching an intersection to allow time for the light to turn green. Both options allow for more efficient driving than the usual stop-and-start. On average, SignalGuru comes within 0.66 seconds for pre-timed[1] traffic signals and within 2.45 seconds for traffic-adaptive[2] traffic signals.

“The good news for the U.S.,” Koukoumidis said, “is that most signals in the U.S. are dummy signals” — signals with fixed schedules. But even an accuracy of two-and-a-half seconds could help you avoid stopping at an intersection. The predictions for variable signals would improve as more cars were outfitted with the system and collected more data.
The version of the application that the researchers used in their tests graphically displays the optimal speed for avoiding a full stop at the next light. But a commercial version probably would use audio prompts instead, Koukoumidis said. Koukoumidis envisions that the system also could be used in conjunction with existing routing software. Rather than recommending that a car slows down to avoid a red light, it might suggest ducking down a side street.
SignalGuru relies on images captured by the smartphones’ cameras. The system’s computing infrastructure could be adapted to a wide range of applications, Koukoumidis said. For example, the camera could capture information about prices at different gas stations or the availability of parking spaces in urban areas.
While this technology is still in its initial development phases, it could complement existing fuel-efficiency tech to help chauffeurs practice more efficient driving and save on fuel costs.
Source: MIT News Office
-- Michael Campos, LCT assistant editor

 1. Traffic lights on a fixed schedule.
 2. Traffic lights whose duration varies continuously according to fluctuations in traffic flow.
View comments or post a comment on this story. (0 Comments)

More LCT Blog Blog Posts

October 1, 2012

Event Management

Don't let your guests down. Here are some things to think about before the event starts.

September 26, 2012

October LCT Mag Focuses On Customer Service

ISSUE PREVIEW: What does he think? What did she really say? Are you channeling your customers? In the October 2012 issue of LCT Magazine, you’ll get a complete primer on how to read and please your
September 26, 2012

Driverless Cars Legalized In California

With no need for people to operate vehicles, how can limo companies adapt to the new world of transportation?
September 26, 2012

Manners Still Matter On Social Media

It has never before been easier for businesses to share information, insight and intimacy with consumers; it has also never been easier to offend them. Read more to learn how to avoid a social media faux pas.
September 20, 2012

My First Encounter With The 2013 Lincoln MKT Town Car

On my trip to Chicago last week for the 2012 BusCon Expo, I had the pleasure of experiencing a new ride — the 2013 MKT Town Car.
See More

Facebook Comments ()

Comments (0)

Post a Comment



See More

See More

See More

See More

LCT Store

LCT Magazine - October 2016 $12.95 COVER STORY: * Leverage Tech To Levitate Your Operations * *


Experience the three annual industry events for networking for business, showcasing vehicles and products, and getting the tools for success.

Read About Your Region

What’s Happening Near You?
Click on any state to see the latest industry news and events in that region.

More From The World's Largest Fleet Publisher

Automotive Fleet

The Car and truck fleet and leasing management magazine

Business Fleet

managing 10-50 company vehicles

Fleet Financials

Executive vehicle management

Government Fleet

managing public sector vehicles & equipment


Work Truck Magazine

The number 1 resource for vocational truck fleets

Metro Magazine

Serving the bus and passenger rail industries for more than a century

Schoolbus Fleet

Serving school transportation professionals in the U.S. and Canada

Please sign in or register to .    Close