Google Maps has its eyes set on more ‘eco-friendly’ routes. Here’s how it works.
The Google Maps app announced plans to start directing drivers to routes that it calibrates to be the most “eco-friendly” based on various factors.
The routes will focus on traffic data, congestion history, and even road inclines to determine the lowest carbon footprint option, the tech giant said on Tuesday.
You asked, and the wait is over.
— Google Maps (@googlemaps) March 31, 2021
This comes as part of the company’s initiative to fight climate change through its services.
Google, an Alphabet Inc unit, said the feature would be launched later in the United States this year and will eventually be expanded globally to help international efforts to combat environmental issues.
The Alphabet-owned search engine said the route provided to consumers would be the most “eco-friendly” by default. Drivers will still have the option to take different routes, including those that are “significantly faster”.
Both options will be offered to allow users to compare estimated emissions.
It is unclear when the feature will be rolled out in the Middle East, though a “global expansion” has been confirmed.
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Google said it derives emissions data based on testing across various types of vehicles, roads and extrapolating insights from the US government’s National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL).
“NREL mobility group manager Jeff Gonder said the lab, which developed a tool known as RouteE to estimate vehicles’ energy usage, reached a deal this month to get funding from Google and study the accuracy of its estimates,” Reuters reported.
The good news is that Google was able to detect a “greener” alternative without any significant tradeoffs for about 50% of the analysed routes.
“What we are seeing is for around half of routes, we are able to find an option more eco-friendly with minimal or no time-cost trade-off,” Russell Dicker, a director of product at Google told the media on Monday.
Google is also planning to offer both Android and iOS users “new map layers for weather and air quality” that are set to roll out in the coming months.
It also announced that starting from June 2021, drivers will receive warnings about travelling through low emissions zones where some vehicles are restricted, as is the case in some European countries.
Google will also offer users a one-stop shop feature to compare car, biking, public transit and other travel options in one place instead of having to switch back and forth between different sections.