Forget fumbling for change, Audi is making cars that can ‘talk’ to toll booths

2014 Audi R8 V10 audio logo

Many U.S. highways have already cashless toll booths that read transponders affixed to a vehicle’s windshield, but Audi is taking things a step further. The German automaker will install those transponders at the factory, so drivers won’t have to worry about messing up their windshields with velcro strips.

Audi’s “integrated toll module” (ITM) is built into the rearview mirror. It was developed by Gentex Corporation, which also supplies all auto-dimming rearview mirrors for Audi luxury cars. Audi claims the ITM is compatible with all toll roads in the U.S., as well as parts of Canada and Mexico.

Audi notes that the ITM decreases windshield clutter (admittedly not the worst problem drivers face) and eliminates the need to manage multiple accounts for different regional toll roads, which generally becomes an issue only on long road trips. Drivers can use Audi’s MMI infotainment system to turn the transponder on or off, and tell it if the vehicle is driving in a carpool lane.

Audi touts this gadget as the latest manifestation of so-called “vehicle-to-infrastructure” (V2I) technology. V2I is an umbrella term for communications technology that allows cars, buildings, and, in this case, toll booths to send data back and forth. A related iteration called V2V (vehicle-to-vehicle) does the same between cars.

Developers of this technology originally viewed it as a way to increase safety for drivers and passengers. It’s thought that V2V-equipped cars could one day send warnings about dangerous road conditions to each other, or signal their presence at intersections and in other areas where visibility may be compromised. Continental will test a “smart intersection” in Columbus, Ohio, that uses V2I technology to improve pedestrian safety.

Audi’s ITM is less about safety and more about convenience. But convenience is very profitable, so it’s possible that companies will develop other uses for V2I along these lines. The technology’s ability to read a car’s location and link to a digital-payment system presents opportunities for commercialization. The question is whether these new uses will actually be valuable to drivers, and not just technological distractions created in the name of generating new sources of revenue for the companies pushing them.

Cars

Bosch’s CES-bound shuttle concept takes us on a trip to a not-too-distant future

Bosch envisions a future in which driverless shuttles occupy their own market segment. The German firm won't build the shuttles, but it wants to provide everything else, ranging from the drive system to the apps used to hail them.
Cars

These winter-warrior cars will never leave you out in the cold

Snow can be an absolute pain if your vehicle isn't optimized to handle that sort of terrain. If brutal snowstorms are an annual part of your life, we recommend you pick up one of these winter-ready vehicles.
Cars

Thinking of opting for a car with a diesel engine? Here's what you need to know

Modern diesel-powered models prove that it is possible to build a clean, efficient diesel engine without sacrificing performance. Here's what you need to know about diesel cars, and how they differ from gasoline-powered models.
Deals

Best deals on home security cameras to save you from package thieves

Home security camera systems can help keep your home and your family safe. Amazon's deals on Blink security cameras and Ring Video Doorbells also help you save money on devices you can access regardless of your current location.
Cars

2020 Toyota Supra caught hiding in a trailer without a shred of camouflage

Toyota's plan to once again lure enthusiasts into showrooms involves bringing back the Supra, one of its most emblematic nameplates. Here's what we know so far about the upcoming coupe, which Toyota is developing jointly with BMW.
Cars

NYC mandates minimum wage for Uber, Lyft, other app-based rideshare drivers

New York City's Taxi and Limousine Commission approved a rule that drivers for companies such as Uber and Lyft must be paid at least minimum wage, even though they are independent contractors. The new pay rate includes operating costs.
Cars

Driving a prototype 2020 Passat at Volkswagen’s Arizona Proving Ground

Volkswagen’s Arizona Proving Ground is where new cars are tested to the breaking point, including the 2020 Passat midsize sedan. Ride along as the new Passat completes testing ahead of its 2019 launch.
Cars

LM Industries’ autonomous shuttles head to Phoenix, Sacramento campuses

LM Industries will deploy Olli low-speed autonomous shuttles at school campuses in Arizona and California as part of its ongoing "fleet challenge," which asks local groups to propose uses for autonomous vehicles.
Emerging Tech

A lidar-equipped truck knows exactly how much de-icer to apply on roads

Lidar is best known as the laser-based technology that helps self-driving cars sense their surroundings. But the city of Knoxville has another, more seasonal use for it: De-icing roads.
Product Review

Boring takes a back seat as 2019 Corolla Hatchback mixes fun with practicality

We drive the 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback, the latest hatchback to bear the Corolla name. As the best-selling nameplate in automotive history, Toyota has high expectations to meet. This model mostly lives up to the legacy.
Cars

Hertz speeds up car rentals with biometric scan technology

Biometric security technology that uses face, fingerprint, and voice recognition is gaining traction, with Hertz emerging as the latest company to incorporate it into its daily operations.
Product Review

Inside Maserati's Levante SUV beats the heart of a Ferrari

Maserati’s luxury SUV gets a shot in the arm by way of Ferrari-derived V8 power, but is it enough to go toe-to-toe with the established players in the high performance sport-utility segment? Let’s find out.
Mobile

McLaren puts the pedal to the metal in special-edition OnePlus 6T

The OnePlus 6T is yet another flagship killer smartphone, bringing powerful specifications to a much lower price than the competition. Now, OnePlus has teamed up with McLaren for the OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition.
Cars

Aston Martin’s 1,000-hp Valkyrie will boast the Mona Lisa of the engine world

Aston Martin has released new details about its F1-inspired Valkyrie hypercar. Co-developed with Red Bull Racing, the Valkyrie will be one of the most aerodynamic production cars ever made.