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University project uses an iPhone to increase a car's fuel efficiency

Posted: , by Nick T.

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University project uses an iPhone to increase a car's fuel efficiency
By putting their skills and knowledge to good use, a group of smart fellows from MIT and Prinston University has found a clever way to increase a car's fuel efficiency by a substantial amount. How did they do it exactly? Why, by making sure that the car remains idle at traffic lights as little as possible... and by using an iPhone.

In a nutshell, the whole magic is done by placing the iPhone on the car's dashboard so that it can monitor the traffic lights ahead of the car's path with its camera. In the meantime, the car's speed is being updated in real time using the phone's GPS radio. After some quick calculations, the system will inform the driver whether it is best to drive slower in order to avoid coming to a complete stop at the next traffic light and then having to bring the vehicle back in motion.

Project SignalGuru in action

Project SignalGuru in action

The project, codenamed SignalGuru, has proven to work like a charm when it was taken for a live test on the streets of Cambridge, MA. Reportedly, the test car's fuel consumption was cut down by the impressive 20%. However, when the guys took the system for a spin on the streets of Singapore, the results were not that good as the traffic lights there do not behave the same way as the ones in the U.S. Still, a few tweaks to the software might be capable of solving the issue, which will likely bring project SignalGuru a step closer to being commercially viable.

If you think that project SignalGuru has the potential to be practically useful to drivers around the world, feel free to drop us a line in the comments section below.

source: MIT via IntoMobile

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posted on 30 Aug 2011, 09:33 2

1. redman (Posts: 12; Member since: 14 May 2008)

Finally, this is exactly what I try and do with my driving habits already since moving from a sedan (with 20+ mpg) to an SUV (with 15 mpg). Here are some other details that also go along with this idea that I incorporate and hopefully are beneficial:

- consider the cars that are also approaching the light with me and how they will affect this
- if I have a long approach and can coast up to the light I shift into neutral far ahead of coming to a stop (not sure if this reduces the transmission life though)
- if I know the light is going to turn green soon (by looking at the cross traffic lights) I try not to even slow down. I know this has its problems...

I hope they continue to work on this and bring it out to the public.

posted on 30 Aug 2011, 10:00 4

2. iKingTrust (banned) (Posts: 716; Member since: 27 Jul 2011)

I think this is amazing. If it is saving 20% you know this will be a paid app. If it works as well as it seems it could I would pay $4.99 one time.

posted on 30 Aug 2011, 10:13 3

3. firebo14 (Posts: 77; Member since: 16 Aug 2011)

iphone's GPS and camera. There are better phones with 1080p video, a GPS, and is faster. You can do the same.

Project SignalGuru needs to do this on better smartphones.

posted on 30 Aug 2011, 15:18 2

8. iKingTrust (banned) (Posts: 716; Member since: 27 Jul 2011)

your a retard

posted on 30 Aug 2011, 19:08

10. Rawrzellers (Posts: 224; Member since: 22 Aug 2010)

You're not your :/ Don't call people a retard when you can't even spell.

posted on 30 Aug 2011, 21:10 1

13. iKingTrust (banned) (Posts: 716; Member since: 27 Jul 2011)

The inability to spell does not make me a retard. But your lack of sense makes you developmentally delayed.

posted on 30 Aug 2011, 15:19 2

9. iKingTrust (banned) (Posts: 716; Member since: 27 Jul 2011)

and a hater. Why do i need 1080 on a damn phone? Do you people on this site listen to yourselves?

posted on 30 Aug 2011, 11:03 4

4. biophone (Posts: 1994; Member since: 15 Jun 2011)

Prinston? You mean princeton!

posted on 30 Aug 2011, 22:23

14. biophone (Posts: 1994; Member since: 15 Jun 2011)

Yep pa still has not fixed it.

posted on 30 Aug 2011, 12:41 1

5. GALAXY-S (Posts: 701; Member since: 07 Jun 2011)

this is very interesting and i find it very usefull specially because i drive a truck that does 16mpg!! atleast this will be a productive way to use the phone to save money, now that all we do with phones is spend money..
i wouldnt use an iphone for this so please try better phone for testing

posted on 30 Aug 2011, 13:22

6. bolaG (Posts: 468; Member since: 15 Aug 2011)

Lol I've always done this. Almost all traffic lights are timed either in 30 second or 45 second intervals(exept for the small lights on side streets which are weight activated)

I thinks its the dumbest thing when I see people zooming by me when I can see the light up ahead is going to be turning red way before anything but a Lambo is able to catch it while its still green lol.

posted on 30 Aug 2011, 13:23

7. M005E (unregistered)

Baaahhhahahah Oh no don't use an iphone,not an iphone, wake up smell the coffee, the phone you have is of no interest to the most normal humans the artical is the interest not your smart phone prefference

posted on 30 Aug 2011, 20:11

12. Penny (Posts: 1670; Member since: 04 Feb 2011)

No knock against the iPhone specifically here, but the key to efficient driving is maximum coasting and minimal braking, and I feel like people should know this already. I mean when I drive, it is a pretty natural action for me to look ahead at the next signal light and gauge the best plan of action (in terms of getting stuck at red lights for a minimal amount of time). I'm not sure what you all are doing while you're driving if you need an app to help you do this.

posted on 30 Aug 2011, 22:33 2

15. thekalbo (Posts: 2; Member since: 10 Jun 2008)

Hmmm... concerned people will be checking their phone to see if they should brake and meanwhile will crash into cars waiting at a red light. A better solution to this problem is to have traffic lights synchronized so a driver travelling at a steady (legal) speed gets all green lights.

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