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Google Maps to start directing drivers to 'eco-friendly' routes

TechnologyMar 30, 2021 07:30AM ET
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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A 3D printed Google logo is seen in this illustration taken

By Paresh Dave

(Reuters) - 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 announced on Tuesday.

Google, an Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOGL) Inc unit, said the feature would launch later this year in the U.S. 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 tradeoff," Russell Dicker, a director of product at Google, told reporters on Monday.

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

The potential effect on emissions from the feature is unclear. But in a study of 20 people at California State University, Long Beach, university researchers 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 U.K.

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.

Google Maps to start directing drivers to 'eco-friendly' routes
 

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Comments (3)
Me comment
Me comment Mar 30, 2021 5:43PM ET
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Google maps now are wacky compare there route to map quest and 11 out of 10 times Google takes the longest route to get from point A to point B every time.
Teufel Dog
Teufel Mar 30, 2021 8:11AM ET
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Except when they add a mileage tax...
Ricardo Gustavo Tambasco Faro da Silva
Ricardo Gustavo Tambasco Faro da Silva Mar 30, 2021 7:19AM ET
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A great implementation for sure. But considering the amount of data available to Google and the years that EVs have been going around and yet Google Maps so far didn't implement an EV route planner considering car model, its autonomy and public chargers distribution around the world I have to say it sounds more like a big PR move to generate positive buzz than anything else... But I hope it will be fruitful through people being conscious about the environmental benefits and using the feature
 
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