Google Maps will start directing drivers to routes it calculates to be the most eco-friendly based on a list of factors. The search engine said it will highlight journeys that generate the lowest carbon footprint instead of showing you the fastest route from point A to point B. By referencing data from the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy, Google will be calculating factors such as fuel consumption, road incline, and traffic congestion to provide to you the route that is as climate-friendly as possible.
For the most part, you might not even notice a difference. Google will be listing the climate-friendly route when its ETA is about the same as a less climate-friendly route. However, in situations where making the eco-conscious decision will cost you significantly more time, Google will offer you the option to toggle between routes and choose which you’d prefer. You can even change your settings to have your route always default to the fastest option. But it’s unlikely that you will. One study found 95% of users never change the default settings of apps.
To mark the eco-friendly routes, Google is opting for a green leaf icon which is highly recognizable. The company is also choosing to include quantifiable stats to nudge you to the greener choice when available. In the company’s example, Google lists two routes: a 15-minute fast route and a 17-minute green route. Then it points out that the green route has 8% lower CO2 emissions on average.
Another change coming to the app is that users will be also able to compare car, cycling, public transport and other travel options in one place instead of toggling between different sections in a new feature being launched this year.
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