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Why your Google Maps route could start taking longer

Jessica Yun
·2-min read
This illustration picture shows Google map application displaying medical facility or a COVID-19 testing center on a smartphone in Arlington, Virginia on June 9, 2020. - A new version of Google's mapping service being rolled out will display pandemic-related transit alerts and let people know when buses or trains might be crowded. Updated versions of the free app for smartphones powered by Apple or Google-backed Android software will also let drivers know about COVID-19 checkpoints or restrictions on their routes.
Google Maps will suggest a longer route, for a good purpose. (Photo by Olivier DOULIERY / AFP) (Photo by OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images)

Google Maps will soon introduce a feature that could make your route longer – on purpose.

The app will now direct users to the most eco-friendly route, as part of a major commitment to help people reduce their environmental footprint, the search engine giant announced in a recent blog post.

“Soon, Google Maps will default to the route with the lowest carbon footprint when it has approximately the same ETA as the fastest route,” said Dane Glasgow, Google Maps’ vice president of product.

“In cases where the eco-friendly route could significantly increase your ETA, we’ll let you compare the relative CO2 impact between routes so you can choose.”

Don’t worry, though – if you’re in a hurry, you can always opt out of feature.

“Always want the fastest route? That’s OK too — simply adjust your preferences in Settings,” Glasgow said.

The roll-out will commence in America “later this year”, with a view to expand globally later on.

The move is being announced as part of a suite of more than 100 changes to the Google Maps app that will be powered by artificial intelligence technology.

Google Maps will also introduce ‘Live View’, which uses augmented reality in order to help people navigate their way while indoors, such as at airports, train stations, ticket offices, department stores, and more.

It will also roll out information about air and weather quality aimed at assisting people who have allergies or are in a fire-prone area.

Glasgow pointed out the benefits of artificial intelligence in driving the changes to the app.

“All of these updates are possible thanks to AI advancements that have transformed Google Maps into a map that can reflect the millions of changes made around the world every day — in the biggest cities and the smallest towns,” he said.

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