14 years after its launch, Google Maps is today one of the most used tools in the world to orient yourself on the road, whether on foot, by car or by any other means. At the beginning of 2020, the Mountain View giant recorded over a billion monthly active users, and it is therefore not surprising that as users increase and the challenges to improve mobility (and lower the impact on the environment) become more complex and urgent, even the features that the Google browser makes available are implemented. Also from a sustainability point of view.
The latest news concern the attempt to make Google Maps more efficient in terms of reducing the ecological footprint. Thanks to artificial intelligence and data from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory of the US Department of Energy, those who use Google Maps can in fact identify the least polluting route to reach their destination. The system takes into account the slope of the road, traffic status and fuel consumption, and then suggests the eco-friendly route by marking it with a green leaf icon.
When the fastest route does not coincide with the least polluting one, Google compares times and fuel consumption and leaves the user the possibility to choose which one to follow, while still trying to develop routes that save time and money. To date, the function is only available for the United States, but the company has announced that in 2022 it should also be implemented for European devices and that it can be activated through the settings, just like when you choose to view the routes that do not require. the payment of a toll.
Google has estimated that this novelty could cut annual carbon emissions by more than one million tons, the equivalent of 200,000 fewer cars on the roads, without specifying how many users should opt for this solution to make it so effective. And again as part of this green turning point, the search engine has begun to make it easier to monitor hybrid and electric vehicles, compare with combustion models and identify discounts “in order to know the true cost before of the purchase ”, also in this case first in the United States and in 2022 in Europe.
Lightweight navigation for cyclists
Returning to Google Maps, the other two innovations in the name of eco-sustainability concern cyclists and traffic lights. For the former, in light of the more than 90% increase in the use of the navigator for bike-friendly routes, a new dedicated feature is envisaged, a “light navigation” that allows information on the route to be obtained without having to constantly look at the screen. . This feature, unlike the others, will begin to spread in the coming months wherever bike navigation is active, on Android and iOS devices. Google also announced that it has extended information on shared bikes and scooters to over 300 cities around the world, and those who use Google Maps in these cities will be able to find the closest collection points, know how many vehicles are available at that time and a place to park at the end of the race.
Artificial intelligence to make traffic lights smarter
The other novelty of Google Maps concerns traffic lights. Google engineers are leveraging artificial intelligence to optimize the efficiency of traffic lights, predicting traffic conditions and improving traffic times to reduce traffic jams and queues. The technology has already been tested in Israel, where a 10 to 20% reduction in fuel consumption and waiting times at intersections has been recorded. The next city where the program will be tested is Rio de Janeiro.