In a new feature supporting the companies commitment to fight climate change, Google Maps will start showing the most eco-friendly routes to users of the platform, enabling them to more easily optimise their carbon footprint.
1. The most eco friendly route
The US tech giant insists it has long developed sustainable practices which aim to benefit the environment, from pledging to be carbon-free by 2030 to helping cities track greenhouse gas emissions, and now it adds to this its latest feature. The eco-friendly routed feature is to be launched first in the US later this year then “with a global expansion on the way”, although users will still be able to opt for Google Maps to display only the shorter route by changing preferences in the app’s settings.
Dane Glasgow, vice president of products at Google Maps, said in a statement that the platform “will soon offer the least carbon-intensive route by default when that route has approximately the same arrival time as the fastest route”. Meanwhile, “If the greener route would significantly increase travel time, you will have the option to compare the relative carbon impact of the two routes before making your choice”. Russell Dicker, a director of product at Google, added that, “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”.
A good map gets you where you’re going. A great map pushes the boundaries of what a map can do.— Google Maps (@googlemaps) March 30, 2021
From eco-friendly routes to live weather, learn about what’s next for Google Maps → https://t.co/C77e6DQg24 pic.twitter.com/FxfLiKmwxk
2. The science behind it
Google worked together with the National Renewable Energy Lab of the US Department of Energy to develop the new tool, using data such as emissions data based on testing across different types of cars and road types, traffic data, road data factoring in slopes and inclines from its own Street View cars feature, and aerial and satellite imagery.
Google Maps has also developed a system of alerts which warns users if they enter a low-emission zone, which it will be available from June in France, Germany, the Netherlands and the UK on devices running Android and iOS operating systems. Google said in a blog post that this feature is to support the efforts of emission zones by using “alerts to help drivers better understand when they’ll be navigating through one of these zones.”
Over the coming months the application will also start showing which modes of transport are the most environmentally friendly for travelling somewhere. Users will be able to compare going by car, cycling, public transport and other travel options in one place instead of toggling between different sections.
You asked, and the wait is over.— Google Maps (@googlemaps) March 31, 2021
Soon you’ll be able to see live weather and air quality conditions right on Google Maps with new layers. 🌤 Rolling out on Android and iOS → https://t.co/C77e6DQg24 pic.twitter.com/ce39A0YE9X
3. Other updates
In addition to the new eco-friendly features, Google also announced several other improvements to its Maps service. The platform has developed a feature which helps users navigate a building that they are already inside, using the Live View tool already available in some shopping centres in major US cities including Chicago, Long Island, Los Angeles, Newark, San Francisco, San Jose and Seattle. Airports are also expected to follow. Another new feature coming soon is a “layer” for planning trips based on weather and air quality, to be launched initially in the United States, India and Australia.