Long gone are the days when we used to print out the directions we got from a website hoping it’ll bring us to our destination. These days, our phones generally already know where we are—we simply just have to input where we want to go and we can even plan in advance what time we have to leave to get there. Thanks to a recent update, Google Maps is taking this comfort up a notch. Soon, you will even be able to choose which route to take that leaves a smaller carbon footprint.
This new feature is especially helpful for those who bought vehicles because of the pandemic. People have been wary of public transport as potential hotbeds for the transmission of COVID-19. But of course, while having one car for each person creates convenience, it also leaves behind a bigger carbon footprint as opposed to the multiple people who can be transported via the subway or bus.
The Most Eco-Friendly Route for Drivers
In order to lighten the planetary load even just a bit, Google Maps will soon automatically default to the route with the lowest carbon footprint if it has almost the same ETA as the fastest route. If the lower carbon footprint route takes longer, Google Maps lets you compare its CO2 impact with the fastest route so you can choose accordingly.
This new routing model uses information from the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Lab. It optimizes lower fuel consumption by taking into consideration factors like traffic congestion and road incline because these use up more gas.
Sustainability in Other Modes of Transport
Globally, Google Maps is also adapting to established low-emission zones in cities like Amsterdam and Jakarta. These are areas where certain diesel cars or other polluting vehicles are restricted to “help keep the air clean,” according to city policies. Users will receive digital alerts to know if their vehicle is allowed in the area, to take another route, or if they need to choose another mode of transportation.
Beyond driving, Google Maps is also taking on sustainability of transportation by giving users more options when they’re going from one point to another. When you input a destination on Google Maps, you’ll soon get a comprehensive list of all the routes and transportation options that you can take. That means you can compare how long it’ll take you to get there by driving, by biking, or through transit all on one page. It will also take into consideration the popular modes of transport in your area—like the subways in New York, Tokyo, or London. Maps will then put your preferred way of transportation first the next time you use it. This will be rolled out around the world in the coming months on both iOS and Android.
It’s difficult to live a fully sustainable and eco-friendly lifestyle. But if everyone makes small, conscious choices for their day-to-day actions, it all adds up to make a difference. Hopefully, we’ll see more big companies finding a way to seamlessly integrate sustainable options into our daily lives so we can work toward long-term progress together as a global community.