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Google Maps eco-friendly routes are rolling out on Android and iPhone

Published Oct 19th, 2021 7:11PM EDT
Google Maps Routes
Image: Teerasan/Adobe

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An awesome Google Maps navigation feature that we’ve been waiting for is finally rolling out on iPhone and Android. That’s the new eco-friendly routes that Google first unveiled in March when it also announced several other environment-related Maps initiatives. Google then re-announced the eco-friendly routes a few weeks ago, and it looks like it’s finally available on mobile devices.

“Travelling by car is one of the more carbon-intensive choices people make on a daily basis,” Google CEO Sundar Pichai said a few weeks ago. “Starting [October 6th] in the US, and in Europe in 2022, Google Maps will let you choose the route with the lowest carbon emissions if it isn’t already the fastest one.”

Back in March, Google announced it had partnered with the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Lab to develop the routing model that will help optimize fuel consumption.

Per AutoBlog, the feature has started showing up on phones. If you can’t see it, it means that the fuel-efficient routes aren’t available in your region yet. You should also make sure you’re running the latest version of Google Maps on your devices.

Google Maps
Google Maps can recommend the eco-friendliest route while setting up directions. Image source: Google

How the Google Maps eco-friendly routes work

Google Maps algorithms will take into account several factors when determining route suggestions for your destinations. They’ll look at things like road incline and traffic to suggest routes that can save fuel consumption, which helps lower emissions. Users can choose to select the eco-friendlier route even if it’s not the fastest one. However, they can revert to a more direct route if they desire.

The route with the lowest carbon footprint might show up as the main suggestion in Google Maps if the ETA matches the fastest route. That’s definitely a great feature to have in a navigation app if you’re trying to reduce your own CO2 emissions while driving.

Google Maps will highlight the eco-friendlier routes in the navigation panel, explaining the driver’s direct impact on the environment. In the example above, the most fuel-efficient route lowers CO2 emissions by 8% percent. Other warnings might tell you exactly how much fuel you save even though you might be driving a few minutes longer than the fastest route.

Google said in its announcements that the more fuel-efficient route could have a massive impact. It might help prevent over one million tons of carbon emissions per year. This is similar to removing some 200,000 cars from the road.

Other green initiatives

Reducing CO2 emissions while choosing eco-friendly Google Maps routes is just one of the environmental features Google created for the navigation app. Google Maps will also issue warnings when you arrive in zones with low emission zones. The app will display an air quality layer that might come in handy if you prefer walking.

Finally, Google will display sustainable car alternatives in Search that will show up when a person searches for fossil fuels cars. Google will also make it easier for buyers to find electric and hybrid options. Also, Google Flight will display emissions information for each seat of every flight.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.