Google announced a suite of new features that will help people who use their platform make more sustainable choices.
The new services focus on reducing planet-heating greenhouse gas emissions and are primarily found on Search, Maps, Travel, and Nest. Google Maps will default to the most eco-friendly route when the time it takes to make the trip is roughly the same as it would be without taking carbon emission into account.
This product update was announced in March, but it is taking effect in the United States and in Europe in 2022. And while this new routing option, which gives drivers the choice between the fastest and most fuel-efficient route, is clearly the highlight of today’s release, Maps is also getting two other new features: a new “lite navigation” mode for cyclists who may want to route but don’t want turn-by-turn directions (launching in the coming months) and expanded bike and scooter share information for when you just want to jump on that Donkey Republic bike for your sojourns through Berlin.
“With the eco-friendly routing feature, it 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,” said Russell Dicker, the 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.” For those users who always want to see the fastest route, no matter what, Google Maps will have a setting that will also allow them to only see that.
Google Maps calculates fuel usage based on the road incline, traffic congestion, and traffic predictions, said Sarah-Jayne Williams, a Director for Google Maps.
To make these routing recommendations, Google has partnered with the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Lab, Williams said at the event.
Google believes that this new routing option “has the potential” to allow Maps users to avoid over 1 million tons of carbon emissions per year — the same as removing 200,000 cars from the road.