Google Maps, one of the most popular navigation services, will soon suggest the most environmentally friendly route as well as the fastest route that it calculates by default.
This sustainable option will take into account which way would use the least fuel, using metrics such as traffic density to determine the best route. The new option will be launched in 2022 and will be another way in which individuals can reduce their impact on the environment as Europe implements numerous initiatives as part of its Fit for 55 commitment to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions by 55% by 2030 (compared to 1990 levels).
"Climate change is not a far-off threat, it is increasingly local and personal," stressed Sundar Pichai, CEO of Alphabet, Google's parent company. "All over the world, forest fires, floods, and extreme weather phenomena continue to harm our health, our economies, and our common future on the planet," he added whilst calling for urgent and concrete solutions.
According to Belga News Agency, the web giant believes that this new option could save over a million tonnes in CO2 emissions per year – equivalent to retiring 200,000 cars from roads. Furthermore, it should save users money by reducing their fuel consumption.
Google has already promised to make its data centres completely carbon-neutral by 2030 and now it hopes to help its users make more sustainable decisions. Alongside the new routing option on its Maps service, the company has said that it intends to promote environmentalism among its users by integrating this in its many services.
For instance, internet search results on its platform will focus more than ever on environmental impact. This will be made clearer when booking a flight: the CO2 emissions of the flight will be shown taking into account not only the different flights and types of aircraft but also the impact that booking different seats would have.
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However, it is not only vehicles with combustion engines that will benefit from the new navigation services. For cyclists, Google will launch a new mobile navigation application in the coming months that will highlight the key details of their journey without requiring users to keep their screen lit. Google Maps will also be updated to allow users to locate more easily the shared bicycles and scooters now popular in over 300 cities worldwide.
Furthermore, artificial intelligence will be used to help vehicles use less fuel when negotiating traffic lights. A study in Israel showed that this can significantly improve traffic, with a 10–20% reduction in fuel consumption being recorded when waiting at intersections. The pilot project will soon be expanded to Rio de Janeiro and discussions are underway to broaden this measure to cities around the world.
Finally, when its search engines are used for questions regarding the environment, Google will prioritise information from reliable sources such as UN bodies.
The Brussels Times