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File photo of Google Maps
File photo of Google Maps

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

  • By default, the Google Maps will suggest eco-friendly routes to drivers if other comparable options take about the same time and unless users opt out of it.

Alphabet Inc's Google on Tuesday announced that its Maps app will now direct drivers to routes that are environmentally-friendly. These routes are estimated to generate the lowest carbon emissions based on traffic, slopes and other factors.

In a bid to fulfil its commitment to help combat climate change through its services, this new feature for Google Maps will be launched later this year in the US and eventually in other countries.

By default, the Maps will suggest eco-friendly routes to drivers if other comparable options take about the same time and unless users opt out of it. However, when alternative routes 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, was quoted as saying by Reuters.

(Also read | Google Assistant driving mode for Android smartphones to be rolled out)

The tech company said that its emissions related estimates are derived by testing across different types of vehicles and road types and drawing on insights from the US government's National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL). Road grade data comes from its Street View cars as well as aerial and satellite imagery.

Though it is unclear what would be the potential effect of this Maps feature on the emissions but a study of 20 people conducted at California State University, Long Beach, last year found that participants were more inclined to consider carbon emissions in route selection.

Other changes that will be incorporated in Google Map's upgrades include additional climate-focused changes. The Maps, from June, will start warning drivers about travelling through low emissions zones where some vehicles are restricted in Germany, France, the Netherlands, Spain and the UK.

Further, in coming months, the users will also be able to compare car, biking, public transit and other travel options in one place instead of switching between different sections.

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