We are all used to the Google’s Maps app getting us from A to B quickly even if it does seem that these days local authorities have got wise to its sneaky shortcuts and turned them into traffic-free zones.
Now Google Maps will also start directing drivers along routes that are estimated to generate the lowest carbon emissions. It will do this by calculating how traffic, slopes and other factors will impact fuel consumption and therefore emissions.
The features will launch in the US later in the year with other countries following soon after
Interestingly 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 tradeoff,” Russell Dicker, a director of product at Google, told reporters on Monday.
In the US the app will draw on insights from the US government’s National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL), as well as its own data.
The big question though is – is this just a bit of greenwashing, or could have it a serious impact on carbon emissions?
Well the jury is out on that one. Much will depend on whether drivers want to put the planet first, or find the fastest route.
Incidentally, the other innovation that is imminent from Google Maps is it will soon enable users to compare car, biking, public transit and other travel options in one place instead of toggling between different sections.