Home Technology Google Maps Helps Users Cut Down Tailpipe Pollution by Promoting Eco-Friendly Routes

Google Maps Helps Users Cut Down Tailpipe Pollution by Promoting Eco-Friendly Routes

by George Mensah
Google Maps

Google Maps’ initiative to promote eco-friendly driving routes is proving successful, with users heeding its advice to reduce greenhouse gas emissions during their trips. The feature, introduced in late 2021, enables users to view the most fuel-efficient routes on Google Maps. In the latest environmental report released by Google, it is estimated that this feature has prevented approximately 1.2 million metric tons of planet-heating carbon dioxide emissions. To put this in perspective, it’s equivalent to taking 250,000 gas-guzzling cars off the road for a whole year.

Initially launched in the US, the fuel-efficient route feature is now available in Canada, Egypt, and almost 40 European countries. Utilizing a machine learning model, Google predicts the most fuel or energy-efficient routes and recommends them to Maps users. If the most fuel-efficient route also happens to be the fastest, Google Maps will automatically default to that option.

To provide more accurate predictions, users can input their car’s engine type, whether it’s gas, diesel, hybrid, or electric. However, it’s worth noting that taking public transit, cycling, or walking still remains more sustainable alternatives, and Google is actively working to enhance Maps usability beyond driving. Efforts to make Maps more immersive have included introducing the “Live View” augmented reality feature in major cities and implementing filters to assist electric vehicle drivers in locating fast chargers.

Google’s analysis reveals that many drivers are indeed choosing less polluting routes for their journeys. By comparing the fuel consumption of Maps users on the recommended eco-friendly routes to what they would have consumed on the fastest route without the tool, Google calculated the tailpipe emissions that were prevented. The total savings amounted to 1.2 million metric tons of avoided CO2 emissions from October 2021, when the feature was launched, until December 2022.

This initiative is part of Google’s broader goal to empower one billion users to make more sustainable choices through its products by 2022. Additionally, Google’s environmental report highlights energy savings achieved through Nest, its smart thermostat product. Over the years, Nest thermostats have saved more than 113 billion kWh of energy and 36 million metric tons of CO2 emissions between 2011 and 2022. In 2022 alone, Nest thermostats helped users conserve more energy than Google consumed that year.

However, Google’s significant carbon footprint is a concern, with emissions surpassing 10.18 million metric tons of CO2 in 2022 alone, comparable to pollution from over 25 gas-fired power plants in a year. Although Google has made progress by reducing its emissions from around 13.6 million metric tons in 2018, it still has a long way to go to achieve its goal of halving emissions by 2030. The company acknowledges the challenges ahead and remains committed to continuing its efforts to minimize its environmental impact.

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