Google Maps offers new eco-friendly routes to users


Amanda Salazar | The Ticker

M'Niyah Lynn

Google LLC announced that it will be introducing eco-friendly routes as part of its list of expected updates to features on Google Maps to come later this year.

In the update to routing, Google Maps will give users routes that use the least amount of fuel based on factors such as traffic congestion and road incline. “Soon, Google Maps will default to the route with the lowest carbon footprint when it has approximately the same ETA as the fastest route,” Dane Glasgow, vice president of product for Google Maps, said in a statement on March 30.

The routes that the app will default to for users will be ones where cars aren’t the means of transportation, but rather bikes, public transportation and walking, depending on the availability of options.

However, for users who are concerned about the eco-friendly routes adding to their estimated time of arrival, they will still have the option to compare “the relative CO2 impact between rates so you can choose,” the statement said.

Users can also adjust their preferences in their settings so that they always get the fastest route if they do not want to take advantage of the eco-friendly option.

Because Google Maps will still be giving users the option to choose the route they ultimately want to go on, this may help users get more accustomed to the changes to the app. Siddharth Pathak, a partner at the global management consultancy firm, Kearney, said the updates are “a great example of three trends coming together – the data, sustainability and consumer choice,” according to BBC.

Google Maps will also be able to compare the time it takes for different modes of transportation to get people to their destination without the users having to toggle between tabs. This is expected to increase the efficiency of the app.

Google is able to find where higher emission rates will be because it tests the routes across different types of vehicles and uses data from its street view cars, as well as satellite imagery.

Not only will Google Maps point users to cleaner energy route alternatives, but the app will alert users when they are approaching city zones that have established low-emission targets to ideally decrease air pollution, Global Citizen said.

The eco-friendly routes serve as part of Google’s commitment to lower emissions and hopefully become the first major company to operate carbon-free by 2030. Google has also set out to improve its practices in regard to sustainability The company was influenced to work toward helping the environment because of collaborations with the U.S. government’s National Renewable Energy Lab, Global Citizen said.

Google was the first major company to be carbon neutral in 2007 and the first to achieve 100% renewable energy, according to their sustainability statement. Since then, Google has laid out how it plans to make good on its mission. For instance, Google has issued $5.75 billion in sustainability bonds, which will increase support for issues like clean energy, affordable housing and support for small businesses to build a sustainable future.

Other notable contributions Google has made to help create a more sustainable future for their users have been adding to its previous investment to bring a total of five gigawatts online over the next decade, making the data about environmental insights available to 3,000 cities and starting its own science-based reforestation efforts.

Google said it is on track to bring over 100 artificial intelligence-powered improvements to Google Maps so that users can have accurate and up-to-date information. This has helped Google Maps to push the boundaries of what a map is capable of doing, Glasgow mentioned.

Some other updates that will be coming to the app include Live View, where users can navigate indoors at places that would usually be difficult to get around like airports and malls. Live View will understand the exact placement and altitude of things inside buildings like restrooms and elevators.

Another update will allow users to see current and forecasted temperature, weather conditions and air quality in any area they are in or want to visit using data from partners including The Weather Company.