Google Maps introduced a significant new feature update on Android and iOS apps that give people the option to show the lowest carbon emissions route. It does that by suggesting the route that lowers fuel consumption which can take more time than the fastest route but it will be the most fuel-efficient.
The company said the initiative could prevent over 1 million tons of carbon emissions per year, which is equivalent to removing 200,000 cars from the road.
Factors like traffic and road inclines are also taken into account when calculating the lowest carbon emissions route. The new update launched in the US on Wednesday, October 6th, and will be introduced in Europe next year.
The feature works as it shows the relative fuel savings (as a percentage) and the estimated time of arrival difference when multiple routes are available. The eco route is also signaled with a green leaf to ensure people are aware of which one it is.
If they prefer not to see the lowest carbon route, they can turn the feature off, and Google will only display the fastest route. When journey times are relatively the same, Google Maps will default to the lowest carbon option.
To be able to get this information about every route, Google Maps is using AI and “insights from the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).” The next phase of the app’s evolution could be to customize it to a specific car as it would make it much more efficient. That is because different cars could use fuel differently in various scenarios like in city traffic or on the highway.
“Climate change is no longer a distant threat…It’s increasingly local and personal. Around the world, wildfires, flooding, and other extreme weather continue to affect our health, our economies, and our future together on our planet. We need urgent and meaningful solutions to address this pressing challenge,” said Google’s chief executive, Sundar Pichai.
The tech giant announced recently other two green initiatives, following its carbon neutral commitments. It included emissions information on its airline fares search engine, Google Flights, and also revealed changes to shopping searches. When users shop for energy-intensive devices like water heaters or dishwashers, it will suggest in the shopping tab a sustainable option.
Google’s green initiative is one step closer to achieving the company’s sustainability ambitions and meeting the increasing need of customers to find ways to cut their carbon footprint.