Researchers at MIT and Princeton have developed a smartphone app called SignalGuru that will tell drivers exactly how much time they have to make the next light.

The app, which has been successfully tested in neighborhoods in the US and Singapore, uses dashboard-mounted smartphone cameras to record whether a light is green, yellow or red. When combined with traffic light information recorded by other SignalGuru users, the app is able to provide precise timing on when traffic lights are going to change.

Alas, the app isn’t available to the public yet. If and when it is, it won’t work until enough motorists download it and position their smart phones on their dashboards.

But the researchers think there is good reason for why their innovation should catch on. By reducing the need to idle and accelerate that is caused by not having a clear idea of when a light is going to change, they say SignalGuru should be able to cut fuel consumption by up to 20 percent.

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