Google just announced that effective immediately, the Google Maps app will feature the most eco-friendly routes for iOS and Android users in the U.S. and it will also be launching in Europe in 2022. Drivers have always been offered route options - the fastest route, one to avoid highways, and usually an absolutely absurd route simply to show there IS another option - and now one of those will be the most fuel-efficient route, which is set as the default option.  

This new routing option will give drivers the choice between the fastest, the slowest, and the most fuel-efficient routes. This is clearly the highlight of this new release, but there is more. Maps will now offer a new ‘Lite navigation’ mode for cyclists who may want some route support but don’t want the constant updates in their ear of “in one mile turn left, in a half mile turn left, get ready to turn left, and congratulations on a successful left turn”. Siri and Alexa are so helpful and supportive, aren’t they? 

“The eco-friendly routing feature will always show you the fastest route — and now also the one that’s most fuel-efficient, if it doesn’t happen to also be the fastest,” according to Russell Dicker, senior director of Transportation at Google Maps. “So, with just a few taps you can see the relative fuel savings between the different options, the ETA difference if there is one, and choose the one that works best for you.” 

Google maps now prioritizes eco-friendly routes instead of fastest routes and includes bike routes
Bike routes are now improved in Google Maps as they add eco-friendly first options

For users who would just want to see the fastest route, you will be able to set Google Maps so that’s the only thing you will see.

Google has calculated that this new routing option could potentially amount to a reduction of 1 million tons of carbon emissions per year, which is the equivalent of removing 200,000 cars from the road. Those are some ambitious projections, and they make assumptions about usage by the public, but hey, if it gets people on board with it that’s great. And that may be what it takes to make it a reality.

Russell Dicker goes on to say; “What we’ve managed to do is build a number of techniques that allow us to get a lot of good options really, really quickly and at scale, because of course, everything at Google is about scale.”

The variables that go into presenting users with a more fuel-efficient route include distance, time, elevation, posted speed limits and the ability of drivers to maintain a constant speed.

The feature Google calls ‘Lite navigation’, is in response to demand from cyclists using Google Maps, Dicker said. The focus of the Lite navigation mode is to provide users with estimated arrival times, and any elevations they may encounter. Elevation is a big one for riders, at least the casual riders who are not benefitting from the assistance of an E-Bike.
Other new Google Maps features include locations of bike and scooter sharing stations, currently available in 300 cities around the globe. All these features are a step in the right direction, and can lead to cleaner air quality and greener cities

Now you know more about the new eco-friendly commuting option available from Google Maps. Find more pages about green lifestyle choices and low-emission commuting in these pages:

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