A new feature announced today by Google Maps could change the way millions of people get around. The company explains that it will stop showing the fastest route by default and instead Google Maps will recommend the greenest or least polluting route. A new type of route presented in March that is calculated based on factors such as fuel consumption, traffic congestion or the inclination of the road.

With this change, Google hopes to help reduce drivers’ fuel consumption. New ecological routes are already available in the United States and will be implemented in Europe from 2022, without specifying whether it will be during the first half of the year or later.

The fastest route will continue to be displayed and can be kept by default

The arrival of these eco-routes represents a change in the priorities of the Google Maps algorithm. Until now, the recommended route (usually shown in blue) was the fastest and from the settings we could choose alternative routes based on various parameters, such as not paying tolls.

From now on in the US and next year in Europe, Google Maps will be updated and will prioritise these eco-routes ahead of the fastest route, unless the time difference is too great.

The calculation of these cleaner routes will be done by Google’s own algorithms and in synchronisation with NREL (US National Renewable Energy Laboratory). The company has not yet specified which organisation it will collaborate with for implementation in Europe.

What factors will it take into account for this green route? The shortest time will continue to be a factor to be taken into account, but not because of the fact of arriving earlier, but because it will usually be the one that generates the least consumption. These eco-routes will be those that Google calculates will consume the least, which will often coincide with the fastest route.

As an example, they give us a route that takes 13 minutes and another that takes 14 minutes, but the speed is constant, there are fewer traffic lights and the road is flatter. In this case, Google Maps will recommend the route that will technically take longer, but will have a lower impact on fuel consumption by allowing the car to be in a more stable state and without acceleration.

In addition to this ecological route, Google Maps will also continue to show the fastest route with its respective times. A route where, from the settings, we will be able to establish that the fastest route will always be the recommended route by default.

With this measure, Google explains that it will be able to avoid more than one million tonnes of carbon emissions every year, equivalent to removing more than 200,000 cars. An initiative to improve the sustainability of an application as popular as Google Maps and a plan for us to drive along those routes that may not always be the fastest, but promise to reduce our consumption.

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