Google to update maps to give you the greenest route to destination

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Google on Tuesday announced changes to the Google Maps app, including a feature that will provide travelers with eco-friendly options to move around.

According to a statement from the company, Google is building a new routing model that will prioritize lower fuel consumption routes for travelers. The Google Maps app will default to the route with the lowest carbon footprint, if it has an estimated time of arrival that is comparable with the fastest route.

Users will, however, have the option to turn off this feature if they wish.

This move, the company said, is part of its commitment to help their users reduce their environmental footprint.

The update also includes a feature that will notify drivers if they are traveling in areas that have restrictions on polluting vehicles in an effort to “keep the air clean,” the statement reads.

Google Maps is also introducing its Live View augmented reality directions to indoor navigation, which allows users to hold up their phones, point their cameras, and follow arrows that guide them to their destinations, The Verge wrote.

The technology is already available in a number of malls in Chicago, Long Island, N.Y., Los Angeles, Newark and San Francisco, and it will continue to be implemented in select airports, malls and transit stations in Tokyo, Zurich, and other cities, the company reported.

The update announced today also includes a new “weather layer,” which will allow users to quickly see current and forecasted temperature and weather conditions in areas. The company is also introducing an “air quality layer” that will show information on air quality. Both of these layers will begin their roll outs on Android and iOS in the coming months.

Google is also implementing changes to its curbside grocery pickup feature on Maps, integrating more helpful shopping information to stores’ business profiles on the app.

“Sixteen years ago, many of us held a printout of directions in one hand and the steering wheel in the other to get around— without information about the traffic along your route or details about when your favorite restaurant was open,” Google Maps’ VP of Product Dane Glasgow said in a statement.

“Since then, we’ve been pushing the boundaries of what a map can do, propelled by the latest machine learning,” he added.

Google Maps’ move towards more sustainable options comes amid a larger push by automobile companies to move towards electric vehicles. In November, General Motors announced that it was putting $27 billion through 2025 into its commitment to electric and autonomous vehicles. Additionally, the automaker revealed plans to launch 30 electric vehicles globally by 2025.

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