Google Maps to display routes with the lowest carbon footprint

When planning to drive somewhere, it’s important to know if you want the fastest route or one that avoids tolls. There will be another option soon. Google Maps has announced that later this year, the app will show users the most environmentally friendly driving routes.

“Google Maps will be assigned the route with the lowest carbon footprint when it has approximately the same ETA as the fastest route,” wrote Dane Glasgow, vice president of product at Google Maps, in a blog post. “In cases where an environmentally friendly route could significantly increase your ETA, we will allow you to compare the relative impact of CO2 between routes so you can choose. “

Environmentally friendly option

The news that Google Maps will assign a route with the lowest carbon emissions isn’t really surprising. Finally, Google, a unit of Alphabet Inc., announced last year that it has committed to working without carbon by 2030 – and will force its users to make environmentally friendly choices.

Okay, but users will to have choice? The answer is yes. When alternate routes are significantly faster, Google Maps will offer choices and allow users to decide which route to take. On the other hand, if users always want to see the fastest route, they can do so by adjusting their settings in the App Settings, Glasgow explains.

How environmentally friendly routes are calculated

About now you may be wondering how – exactly – Google Maps will determine which route generates the lowest carbon emissions. This is possible because Google Maps builds a routing model based on data from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory of the U.S. Department of Energy, Glasgow explains. This insight explains the possible fuel consumption based on a number of factors, such as road slope and traffic congestion.

“What we see is that for about half of the routes we are able to find a more environmentally friendly option with minimal or no time concession,” Russell Dicker, director of Google’s product, told reporters, according to Reuters article reports.

Reducing carbon emissions

In the United States, the largest source of carbon emissions is transportation, says Elizabeth Irwin, a senior transportation analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists, in a CBS News article. That means if the carbon emissions in the U.S. are to be reduced, drivers’ behavior will have to change – especially the behavior of those who drive the most, she said.

“The amount of fuel and greenhouse gas emissions you save will really depend on how much you drive,” Irvin said. “This could be really useful for people driving in a salute, like Uber, Lyft or delivery drivers.”

Additional benefit

An increasing number of cities around the world – especially in Europe – have started to limit vehicle emissions. Some have even implemented low-emission zones that ban heavily polluting vehicles, such as some diesel cars. Google Maps will also be able to help drivers in these areas.

“To support these efforts, we are working on warnings to help drivers better understand when they will be moving through one of these zones,” Glasgow wrote. Drivers in these areas “will quickly know if they are [their] a vehicle is allowed in the area ”, or if you will need to“ choose an alternative mode of transport or take another route ”.

The low-emission zone warning function will be launched in June for drivers in Germany, the Netherlands, France, Spain and the UK – on Android and iOS operating systems, Glasgow explains. More countries will be added after that. Interested in travel and sustainable travel? Think