Google Maps to start directing drivers to ‘eco-friendly’ routes

Platform Industry: Google News

Google’s Maps app will start directing drivers along routes estimated to generate the lowest carbon emissions based on traffic, slopes and other factors, the company has announced.

Google said the feature would launch later this year in the US and eventually reach other countries as part of its commitment to help combat climate change through its services.

Unless users opt out, the default route will be the “eco-friendly” one if comparable options take about the same time, Google said. When alternatives are significantly faster, Google will offer choices and let users compare estimated emissions.

“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 reporters.

Google said it derives emissions relative estimates by testing across different types of vehicles and road types, drawing on insights from the US government’s National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL). Road grade data comes from its Street View cars as well as aerial and satellite imagery.

Related Article:
Google extends fact-checking to image search

NREL mobility group manager Jeff Gonder said the lab, which developed a tool known as FastE to estimate vehicles’ energy usage, reached a deal this month to get funding from Google and study the accuracy of its estimates.

The potential effect on emissions from the feature is unclear. A study of 20 people at California State University, Long Beach, last year found participants were more inclined to consider carbon emissions in route selection after testing an app that showed estimates.

Google’s announcement included additional climate-focused changes. From June, it will start warning drivers about to travel through low emissions zones where some vehicles are restricted in Germany, France, the Netherlands, Spain and the UK.

In the coming months, Maps app users will be able to compare car, biking, public transit and other travel options in one place instead of toggling between different sections.

Related Article:
France orders tech giants to pay digital tax

The team at Platform Executive hope you have enjoyed this news article. Translation from English to a growing list of other languages via Google Cloud Translation. Initial reporting via our official content partners at Thomson Reuters. Reporting by Paresh Dave. Editing by Leslie Adler and Grant McCool.

Stay on top of all the latest developments across the platform economy and gain access to our problem-solving tools, proprietary databases and content sets by becoming a member of our community. For a limited time, subscription plans start from just $7 per month.

Share This Post