Google Maps Will Recommend Eco-Friendlier Directions Over Faster Routes
I think we can all agree that, by and large, Google Maps is a pretty great tool for helping navigate from point A to point B (except in Causeway Bay—Google Maps does not understand Causeway Bay at all). With a new update coming to the United States later this year and rolling out globally over the ensuing months, Google Maps is about to get even better—for the environment, at least.
In an announcement published on the official Google products blog earlier today, VP of Product Dane Glasgow explained that imminent updates to Google Maps will include a reprioritisation of route recommendations based on eco-friendliness—i.e. Maps will deliver directions search results in order of environmental friendliness rather than speed.
"Soon, Google Maps will default to the route with the lowest carbon footprint when it has approximately the same ETA as the fastest route," Glasgow explains. "In cases where the eco-friendly route could significantly increase your ETA, we’ll let you compare the relative CO2 impact between routes so you can choose."
If searchers want to prioritise efficiency, they will need to override the eco-friendly default in Maps settings: "Always want the fastest route?" the blog post reads. "That’s OK too—simply adjust your preferences in Settings. Eco-friendly routes launch in the U.S. on Android and iOS later this year, with a global expansion on the way."
The new update is made possible utilising info and data from the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Lab, and takes factors such as road incline and traffic congestion into consideration when surfacing potential directions.
The Google Maps update will also deploy a slew of helpful additional features, including a Live View AR functionality that helps users navigate around indoor spaces (say, if you're searching for an escalator inside an airport); predictive weather forecasts; and more robust retail and shopping destination detail pages, including information on services such as curbside pickup at supermarkets, for example.
A new feature in Maps will also alert drivers to special zoning laws—and whether their particular vehicle is permitted in parts of town:
"From Amsterdam to Jakarta, cities around the world have established low emission zones — areas that restrict polluting vehicles like certain diesel cars or cars with specific emissions stickers—to help keep the air clean," Glasgow writes. "To support these efforts, we’re working on alerts to help drivers better understand when they’ll be navigating through one of these zones. You can quickly know if your vehicle is allowed in the area, choose an alternative mode of transportation, or take another route. Low emission zone alerts launch this June in Germany, the Netherlands, France, Spain, and the UK on Android and iOS, with more countries coming soon."