Google Maps: what is eco-friendly routing, how does the fuel saving tool work, and when is it available in UK?

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Android and iOS apps to get update offering most fuel efficient route as well as fastest paths

Google has launched a new option on its Maps mobile app for Android and Apple users, allowing drivers to choose the most eco-friendly driving route.

Currently, the search giant’s mapping app defaults to offering motorists the quickest route to their destination but with the new tool it will also offer the journey that is estimated to use the least amount of fuel.

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The firm says that the eco-friendly routing option has the potential to save around one million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions from transport every year - the equivalent of removing 200,000 cars from the roads. It also emphasises the potential to save drivers money by using less fuel at a time when prices are soaring.

The new option has already been launched for devices running Android and iOS in the US and Google says it will be available in Europe and beyond in 2022.


Google says that the system uses both AI and “insights from the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory [NREL]” to work out the most fuel efficient route. It takes into consideration traffic levels as well as routes with fewer hills and more constant speeds, to offer the best efficiency.

If the quickest and most efficient routes are the same motorists will only be offered one option but if there is a longer but more efficient path, drivers will be given a choice of route. The tool will show the estimated difference in distance, travel time and expected fuel savings to allow motorists to decide which route to take. If you always want the quickest route, there will be an option to disable the eco-friendly routing.

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Jeff Gonder from NREL, commented: “Not only does Google Maps’ eco-friendly routing bring NREL’s fuel-efficient technology from the lab to the road, but it has huge potential to significantly lower emissions and save drivers money — something that’s good for both people and the planet.”

The eco-friendly routing update is one of a number of updates to the Maps app, which also include new features for cyclists and information on bike and scooter sharing schemes around the world.

The “lite” navigation function allows cyclists to quickly see important details about their route such as trip progress and ETA without needing to keep their screen on or enter turn-by-turn navigation.

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