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Google Maps navigation is about to get a huge update

Published Oct 6th, 2021 10:57AM EDT
Google Maps Navigation
Image: blackzheep/Adobe

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Google keeps updating Google Maps by adding novel features that aren’t always available on rival services. But the app’s main feature remains Google Maps navigation. The reason most people use Google Maps is to get around as efficiently as possible. That might involve driving a car, walking, or using public transportation to get to your destination. And Google keeps adding great new navigation features to the app that make it more and more useful.

In March, Google announced several new Maps features focused on the environment, which were made possible thanks to AI algorithms. One of them involved a massive change to how Google Maps serves navigation directions. And the feature is finally set to go live on Wednesday.

 Google Maps eco-friendly navigation

Google said at the time that it partnered with the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Lab on a new routing model that aims to optimize fuel consumption. The algorithm looks at several factors, including traffic congestion and road incline, to suggest routes with lower fuel consumption. By reducing fuel usage, drivers will reduce their carbon footprint, which is something many people will appreciate.

Back in March, Google said that Maps will default to the route with the lowest carbon footprint when the ETA is similar to the fastest route. Users will still be able to change the navigation suggestions to meet their needs. They won’t be forced to choose the eco-friendliest route if they don’t want it.

Google said the feature would roll out this year in the US, while Google Maps users elsewhere around the world will get it sometime next year.

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

The eco-friendly routes feature is rolling out now

The feature is finally rolling out on Wednesday in the US, with European Google Maps users expected to get it next year. It’s unclear when it will arrive in additional markets. The animation above shows how eco-friendly routes will appear in the app.

“Travelling by car is one of the more carbon-intensive choices people make on a daily basis,” Google CEO Sundar Pichai said. “Starting [Wednesday] 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.” Per The Guardian, Pichai said the new navigation feature could save 1 million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year, or the equivalent of removing 200,000 cars from roads.

Google Maps navigation isn’t the only Google product that’s getting an eco-friendly makeover. The company will deliver a few additional features meant to help the environment in other places. Google will make it easier for online car shoppers to see hybrid and electric options. The company will also let customers compare these cars against traditional car models that rely on fossil fuels. Similarly, buyers looking for devices that consume a lot of energy will see sustainable alternatives in Search. Google Flights will display emissions information for each seat of every flight. Hotel searches will also include information about the hotel’s eco-friendly initiatives.

The new Google Maps navigation feature will be available on Android and iPhone. You might have to update the app to start reducing carbon emissions on your drives.

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.