Google today unveiled a host of new capabilities across its products as part of its Sustainable with Google 2021 initiative, allowing you to make “more sustainable decisions.” This includes releasing eco-friendly routing in the United States and encouraging bike riding with “Lite Navigation” on Google Maps.
Google originally showed off environmentally friendly routing in March, and it’s now accessible in the United States, with Europe following in 2022. Google Maps for Android and iOS will recommend the most fuel-efficient route, “even if it isn’t the quickest.” It emphasizes the difference in relative (% of) fuel savings and expected time of arrival (ETA) between the two routes.
With Maps’ addition of a feature that allows you to always choose the quickest route, you’ll continue to see other routes to reach where you’re going. Otherwise, when the ETA is approximately the same as the quickest route, Google will “default to the most fuel-efficient route with the lowest carbon emissions.”
This new routing approach optimizes for lower fuel use, which, according to Google, also saves you money on petrol. The routing is based on “AI and insights” from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory of the US Department of Energy (NREL).
We estimate that eco-friendly routing has the potential to prevent over one million tons of carbon emissions per year — that’s the equivalent of removing over 200,000 cars from the road.
Meanwhile, Google Maps is promoting bike riding with a new “Lite Navigation” mode that skips turn-by-turn directions:
We’ve heard from a lot of bikers that they don’t want to enter turn-by-turn navigation when they’re cycling since their phone is usually tucked away for most of their ride.
When you first start, you’ll see a map view with arrows indicating your location and turning points, as well as a bottom sheet with live ETA and distance remaining, as well as elevation. For the length of your trip, you’ll additionally receive a permanent “Lite navigation on” system notice. This will be accessible in Google Maps for Android and iOS in the “coming months” wherever bicycle navigation is supported.