Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US have introduced a new smartphone application, known as SignalGuru, which helps to reduce fuel consumption and avoid red lights.

With the help of dashboard-mounted smartphones, the new application forecasts when a traffic signal is about to change.

The app also calculates the speed that drivers should maintain when nearing an intersection in order to pass through without stopping.

Reuters has quoted the scientist behind the app Emmanouil Koukoumidis as saying that the stop-and-go pattern that traffic signals give rise to significantly increases fuel consumption.

"We wondered how we could help drivers cruise through signal light intersections without stopping, and how much we could save on gas and improve the flow of vehicles," Koukoumidis added.

Cameras on the dashboard-mounted smartphones are activated when approaching an intersection, detecting when a signal changes from green to red and vice versa.

It uses this information to determine the speed that a driver should maintain to avoid stopping at a red light, with the speed recommended always being inside legal speed limits.

Traffic signals’ information, including the changing time, is crowd sourced by users of the app and sent back to SignalGuru to enhance the exactness of its predictions, the news agency reported.

Tested in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the system witnessed a 20% drop in fuel consumption in the region, Koukoumidis said.

In addition, it was trialled in Singapore, where the traffic lights differ based on the traffic volume.

The researchers’ group is currently seeking industrial partners to commercialise the software.

The project was launched as a part of the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology’s Future Urban Mobility group.