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Extremetech and are reporting on SignalGuru, a network of smartphones mounted on car dashboards that collects information about traffic signals and tells drivers when to slow down in order to avoid stoplights. Princeton Engineering graduate student Emmanouil Koukoumidis and Princeton Engineering professor Margaret Martonosi are developing the system in collaboration with MIT associate professor Li-Shiuan Peh. Cars are responsible for more than a quarter of the energy consumption and 32 percent of the carbon dioxide emissions in the United States, according to Koukoumidis. “If you can save even a small percentage of that, then you can have a large effect on the energy that the U.S. consumes,” he said.

The researchers, who have tested the system in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and in Singapore, have found that it helps cut fuel consumption up to 20 percent. “SignalGuru is a great example of how mobile phones can be used to offer new transportation services, and in particular services that had traditionally been thought to require vehicle-to-vehicle communication systems,” said Marco Gruteser, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at Rutgers University.

The researchers received the best-paper award in July for their system at the Association for Computing Machinery’s MobiSys conference in July. For more information, see this report from MITnews. Or view a slideshow demonstration here.