Ford is testing 'magic' traffic lights for emergency vehicles

Published: 31 March 2022

► The trial ran from 2020 to this month
► Could be used for normal traffic
► Uses C-V2X technology

Ford is testing new traffic light tech that could potentially save lives. Currently being trialled in Aachen, Germany, the new technology can clear traffic lights for emergency vehicles such as police cars and ambulances. That way, emergency vehicles will have a pathway of green lights until the required destination. 

‘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,’ said Michael Reinartz, the director of consumer services and innovation at Vodafone Germany. ‘Intelligent traffic light control helps save lives when every second counts and reduces unnecessary waiting times and cuts CO2 emissions.’

How does it work?

The trial used a road with eight consecutive sets of traffic lights, and then two further stretches with three consecutive traffic lights. A Ford Kuga test vehicle equipped with transmitters then took the place of an emergency vehicle in different scenarios. 

When acting as an emergency vehicle, the Kuga was able to send data to the traffic light to stay or turn green – and signal it to switch back. Not only could this help emergency vehicles get to places faster, but it’d also stop them running red lights – eliminating the risk of colliding with other traffic.

Can it work for normal cars?

In normal conditions, the same C-V2X technology can be used to slow cars before red lights, reducing hard braking while also enabling them to keep moving until it turns green. In that way, driving should be more efficient as there’s less stop and start.

When will it happen?

The project ran from January 2020 to this month, but Ford hasn’t released any details of further trials or a public roll out. We’ll update this article when we know more.

By Curtis Moldrich

CAR's online editor and racing-sim enthusiast