If you’ve used Google Maps for directions in the past two weeks, you might have seen a little green and white sheet next to your estimated driving time. This marks what Google believes is the most fuel-efficient route, a navigation option the company says could save users money on gasoline.
How to activate ecological routing
Due to the way Google is rolling out new features, this tool might not be available yet, but when it appears on your phone, you can choose how Maps handles routing.
These little leaves only appear on the screen when you choose your destination in the free Android or iOS app, tap instructions, and select the car icon for driving instructions. Adjust your settings from there by pressing the three points in the upper right corner, then Route options, and turn the toggle switch next to Choose fuel-efficient routes On or off.
When this option is enabled, Maps defaults to fuel efficient routes when arrival times are similar to less efficient routes. If you turn it off you’ll still see the stamped sheet option onscreen, but Maps will instead suggest the fastest route (or whatever matches other settings you’ve made, like avoiding tolls. , highways or ferries). Sometimes the fastest, most fuel-efficient routes will be the same.
Choose one of these potentially greener routes and Maps will show you how much fuel you think you’ll save. For example, on a 35-minute ride that we tried, Google estimated that we would save 9% on our fuel by spending three more minutes behind the wheel. We haven’t tested the app extensively, but you seem to see more fuel savings, as a percentage, when choosing between local routes rather than plotting long road trips where you’ll spend most of your time on the road. the highways.
What is going on behind the scenes
Google calculates its fuel-optimized routes using artificial intelligence and data from the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and these routes typically feature fewer hills, less traffic, and consistent speeds, according to Google. the society.
[Related: 5 uses for Google Maps beyond navigation]
Digging a little deeper, the app notes that the calculation of the numbers includes factors such as the average fuel consumption of vehicles in your area, the grade of slopes in the route, stop-and-go traffic, and whether you drive on local roads. roads or highways.
One last note: these are estimates, so there is no guarantee that you will save gas by choosing an eco-friendly route, or time by opting for speed. But it’s definitely worth a try.