A new technology which will allow drivers to turn traffic lights green is being tested in Newcastle.
The North East Ambulance service will be the first to trial the system which should allow ambulances to get up to date information about traffic conditions as well as predicting a route and speed that will allow them to encounter only green lights on the way to their destination.
About the size of a small Sat Nav, the communications system can then also give the ambulance crew the option of requesting priority over an approaching junction, telling the traffic light to turn green.
Using Newcastle's existing Urban Traffic Management Control centre, the traffic lights are all capable of 'talking' to vehicles that are equipped with the new technology as well as being linked to Newcastle's central transport hub.
University of Newcastle Professor of Transport Phil Blythe is part of the team that'll be running the test and believes that it's as much about improving services now as it is preparing for the future.
“Traffic management systems are already in place across the city to improve traffic flow but what’s unique about this trial is that we will be giving personalised information directly to the driver, for example, the system might advise a driver that if they travel at 24 miles an hour they will hit the next four sets of traffic lights on green."
“These are exciting times in the world of transport and here in Newcastle we are leading the way - taking the first step towards a fully automated system with intelligent infrastructure and, eventually, driverless cars.”
The project is being co-run by the University of Newcastle's Department of Transport, North East Ambulance Service and other global partners including Volvo and Siemens.
It's expected that when implemented, driverless cars will need to have constant communication with not only other cars, but also with traffic management systems.
The UK isn't the only country that's preparing for a driverless future. Sweden has already confirmed that in partnership with Volvo, it'll be allowing fully driverless cars onto the roads of Stockholm as part of a real-world test on how self-driving vehicles can cope with the existing infrastructure.