Google Maps offers eco-friendly routes for greener driving

Google Maps offers eco-friendly routes for greener driving

If you’re worried about facing record high petrol prices from this month, then Google Maps is here to help you drive more economically thanks to a new feature in its app.

The introduction of ‘eco-friendly routing’ to its Maps navigation system will provide drivers with an alternative to the fastest and most direct route with the option of one that’s best for the environment.

The greener direction will take longer, delaying the quickest estimated arrival time, but it promises to cut your carbon footprint and save you on fuel bills.

Google isn’t the only one offering an eco-focused app, as a new in-car system launched by Volvo for its latest EVs will be launched, which will provide live advice on driving style from an efficiency perspective. 

Google’s new nav option has been launched in the US for both Android and Apple users and is set to be made available in the UK in 2022.

In its current form, when users of Google Maps set a desired destination, the mapping system offers the fastest route based on live traffic data – and alternative options that might not necessarily be the quickest.

However, the new ‘eco-friendly routing’ tool will provide drivers with another choice – a path that is estimated to use the least amount of fuel, or electricity if you’re driving an EV.

According to Google, the system uses both artificial intelligence and insights from the Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to calculate the most efficient journey.

This results in a far more complex and accurate algorithm than used for the ‘eco route’ in built-in-nav systems in the latest cars, which solely rely on live traffic data to understand where congestion might cause stop-start journeys.

The Google alternative takes into consideration up-to-date traffic levels but then also looks at routes with the fewest hills, cornes and traffic lights that mitigate the need to slow down and accelerate repeatedly – something that increases fuel use.

Motorists will only be offered the one option if the most efficient route is the same as the quickest. However, if the more eco-friendly option takes longer, they will be given a choice. 

Fuel savings, the difference in carbon impact and the additional time taken to complete a journey will be pre-displayed so motorists can make an informed decision about driving the least-polluting route or not before setting off.

If users decide that they don’t want it to be an option, they can choose to disable the eco-friendly route option.

Google estimates that its introduction has the potential to save around one million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions from transport every year – the equivalent of removing 200,000 cars from the roads – as well as saving drivers money by not having to fill up as often, especially with average petrol prices set to hit record highs before the end of this month and increase towards Christmas. 

Jeff Gonder from NREL, said: “Not only does Google Maps’ eco-friendly routing bring NREL’s fuel-efficient technology from the lab to the road, but it has huge potential to significantly lower emissions and save drivers money — something that’s good for both people and the planet.”

The eco-friendly routing update is one of a number of updates to the Maps app, which also includes a new features for cyclists and information on bike and scooter sharing schemes around the world.

A ‘lite’ navigation function allows cyclists to quickly see important details about their route such as trip progress and estimated arrival time without needing to keep their screen on or enter turn-by-turn navigation.

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