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Redefining what a map can be with new information and AI (blog.google)
310 points by ra7 on March 31, 2021 | hide | past | favorite | 287 comments

It's also the cheapest route to drive, as it's optimizing for lower fuel consumption:

    With insights from the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Lab, we’re building a new routing model that optimizes for lower fuel consumption based on factors like road incline and traffic congestion.
Provided that the few extra minutes aren't critical to one's wallet, it's a cost savings. For me those extra minutes are rarely critical. If I could, I'd usually choose the lowest stress route! But I'm definitely going to enjoy using this additional information.

> If I could, I'd usually choose the lowest stress route!

Apple Maps sometimes features alternate routes that are "simpler" or with "fewer turns", which I think is a very nice feature. I'd rather not cut through small side streets just to save 1-2 minutes.

I almost always take the simpler route, especially in areas I’m not familiar with. It’s a very nice quality of life feature that doesn’t get mentioned much.

Absolutely. I wish Google would do simple, sane routes by default, emphasizing roads that were meant to be thoroughfares. I feel bad, and carsick, treating a quiet and winding neighborhood like a highway. And I hate all the traffic that goes along my residential side road presumably due to Google Maps.

I hate when google thinks I want to save 1 minute by making lightless right turns straight into a rush hour traffic jam.

I'd love a simpler route choice in Google Maps. It very telling that they don't provide it - do they use their own product.

Me too, I too would love an option saying Fewer Turns (same way as Fewer Transfers in public transport option). While we are there, it might be not possible, but would live an option with Route with Left Turns with Traffic Signals only. Many times a main road is through way, & a small crossing road has stop signs on both ends.

I haven't heard it mentioned often as a nice feature. However, it used to be a regular complaint from people I know that GPS would send you on awkward routes through tiny streets with many turns. That's something I haven't heard in a while.

Google definitely sometimes still does it. Which as I said elsewhere, is particularly annoying when there's snow and ice in the winter.

I’ve found Waze to do the opposite, which suits me. It’ll often show me new routes when the obvious ones are slow.

It seemed to be more aggressive than Google Maps. I thought that was interesting since they’re both Google. Different engine? Different default options? User intuition wrong?

It’s definitely more aggressive, and I think it to give users a choice. Most people don’t want to be cutting through side streets and things just to save a few minutes if they don’t know the area well enough, so Google Maps picks the friendliest route, and only gets aggressive if the traffic is terrible, whereas Waze tries to shave every second it seems like.

My biggest problem with Waze's routing isn't that it's at times complex, but that it sometimes wants me to do things that feel precarious. I've had occasions where it has me cross a super busy 4-lane street in the dark, at a spot that has no traffic light with everyone going high speeds in a slight curve. No thanks!

Only because Google bought them a few years back, they were independent before that and probably still have autonomy when it comes to their route calculation. Google was mainly after their data and maybe some of their staff.

Sometimes I wish I could ask it for the opposite: Give me the fastest route even if it requires a lot of maneuvres such as small streets, U-turns, cutting through somebody's private driveway, illegal turns, armed robbery.

I've started to noticed "no through traffic" signs around my town on the side streets Google Maps likes to send people down. I'm not sure if Google Maps has updated itself yet, but I find that rather interesting.

I’ve always wondered how enforceable those signs can really be. We’ve got some here that are so ambiguous I’m not even sure where they don’t want you to go.

Every once in a while a patrol car will show up parked near the signs, ticketing sign scofflaws (where I am at least). Been caught up by one of these a couple of times. So really it is in some sense a numbers game

Ironically, if there were a feature that only cut through small side streets and avoided larger streets, I'd use that all the time!

Yeah; in most cities, doing that doesn’t make sense, but in Silicon Valley, side streets can be 4x faster during rush hour. It’s not due to congestion; the light cycles are punitively long, to the point where intersections sit idle for 30-60 seconds at a time while there’s a multi-block (and multi-light) backup sitting behind red lights.

(Source: my pre-covid commute was always under 15 minutes on side streets, but regularly 45-60 minutes on main roads.)

Thanks for ruining residential streets and making it more dangerous for children to play where they live!

The bike route feature does that, but please don't drive cars on bike paths.

At least keep just two wheels on the ground if you’re gonna...

Especially when on a bicycle or walking.

Try the cycling routes

Apple Maps once sent me through what turned out to be a private apartment complex in order to avoid a signaled intersection. Not only is this probably illegal, I'm sure the owners would not appreciate it.

Maps makes it pretty easy to report a route like that. I've done so before.

Same; with a lot of the routes Maps considers faster, it doesn't seem to take the extra effort and more acceleration / deceleration into consideration. It really should optimize for the /intended/ route, because city and road planners know what they're doing. Only exception being if the intended route is blocked, but in those cases the certainty that the alternative route goes down a lot because lots of people will be taking the side roads.

Google maps often sends me on unsealed roads to save a few minutes, when driving in the country.

Don't get me wrong, I love this feature but I can understand others would not.

Unsealed. What a fascinating and more specific word I just learned today for what we call gravel roads.

That being said, you really have to watch that. There is a popular google maps cut-through near me that takes you down a road we call "bridge out" for, well, obvious reasons. At least once or twice a year the local tow truck operator has to figure out how to haul a car out of the creek down there.

There is another road that has been closed long enough that there is now a 30-40' oak tree in the middle of it, and yet google maps thinks it is an appropriate cut through between highways.

You really have to watch that in the country. The data is not great sometimes.

Oh right, i was adjusting my language for an international audience. We call them dirt roads mostly here, I think on account of them being mostly dirt, though they often do contain gravel. Up north some of the dirt roads are so thick with dust you need to leave a few minutes between car / road train so the dust settles enough to see.

But yeah, I have been sent on 'roads' that are just a little more than overgrown goat tracks, or across private land.

TBH I would try a lot of these roads even if I didn't use google.

Be careful out in Utah/Nevada.

Google Maps sometimes seems as if it goes into an "I feel like a country drive" mode. Particularly in the winter when there may be blowing snow and icy patches on narrow roads this is particularly sub-optimal. And even in summer, given enough turns, I usually end up messing something up so I lose whatever 1 minute I was going to save.

Oh god google maps did this to me during a blizzard once. Going from plowed primary arteries to secondary side streets that might as well have been skating rinks was NOT COOL.

"But it's 2 minutes faster!"

Not when I'm going half the speed and starting to slow down halfway through the block to make sure I don't slide right out into traffic.

Especially since some of those side streets don’t exist

I am with you on the "lowest stress" thing.

While I guess some people:"lowest stress = fastest time" For me it is: not having to do a turn across 4 lanes of traffic(2 in either direction) without traffic lights.

Wife and I constantly scan google route and make up something when it does that.

I totally agree. I'd also love for the ability to specify how far in advance I want to know about turns so I can start getting in the correct lane without just shoving my way in at the last minute cause hey my turn is in 50 yards.

It might coincide with lower stress if it involves less congestion. I guess we'll see how it pans out in practice.

> It's also the cheapest route to drive

It would be the cheapest if it accounted for toll prices.

The important paragraph that most people probably care about:

    Soon, Google Maps will default to the route with the lowest carbon footprint when it has approximately the same ETA as the fastest route. 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. Always want the fastest route? That’s OK too — simply adjust your preferences in Settings.

I'd be curious to know if that maps onto the lowest energy use in an electric car.

Because I've been wanting that feature for long-distance EV trips for a while now.

If it's optimizing for combustion cars it won't be a perfect match for electric. The ICE route will penalize intersections and hills due to engine idling and lack of regenerative braking.

Some fancy ICE cars automatically turn off the engine instead of idling.

Which is super annoying and in many instances damaging to the car (in the long run). Thats the reason why basically everybody that I know turns it off

You can't turn it off in the EU. The configuration is reset as soon as you power off the car. Considering this, assuming your claim is true, there should be vast amounts of damage to vehicles in the EU, which there isn't. In other words, the stop-start system causing significant damage is just one of the many myths popular among motorists.

I've heard only two things about start/stop systems:

    1. I don't like it (Folks didn't have a clear answer. Maybe ego?).
    2. Batteries are too expensive (Which I think is acceptable for such tech).

I happen to be one of the people who didn't like it until I got used to it. The reason is simple - if you'd been dependent on an unreliable car in the past, starting the engine is associated with all sorts of uncertainties. Starters in particular seem to be the part that fails the most often in pre-stop-start cars. With each start there's a chance something will go wrong. This then translates to a bit of anxiety every time you hear the engine start even in situations where the probability of failure is insignificant.

I should have mentioned that my experience with stop-start is only with manual transmission cars that start the engine upon touching the clutch, sometimes before it is in full contact and usually before I'm ready to release it. If I'm going for a fast start I start the engine preemptively by lightly touching and releasing the clutch.

The other commenter's frustration with automatic transmission vehicles that start the engine upon releasing the brake sounds valid to me, especially if there isn't a convenient way to start the engine preemptively.

I have used two cars with start/stop: Renault Megane and VW Polo. Both were diesels and had automatic transmission.

Both of them started the engine just before my foot leave the brake pedal. I think they sensed the rate I eased them and decided that I'm going to roll.

I also drive an automatic Focus as my daily driver which doesn't have start/stop and didn't have a noticeable difference in their driving experience during stops, TBH.

Maybe some cars have different implementations and algorithms. A brand had on demand stop IIRC. You pressed brake a little harder to command the car to stop the engine.

My cars are too old to have the start/stop system but I've experienced it in rental cars and my immediate reaction is that I don't like it - especially the lag between when you move your foot from the brake pedal to when the engine actually starts running.

It wasn't so bad with a manual transmission (~2016 Mini Cooper) as I often start to ease off of the brake pedal as I start to depress the clutch, so once it's time to give it some gas, the engine is probably running.

That lag felt extremely annoying and potentially dangerous in an automatic ~2018 Volvo S90 though. Maybe I move my feet faster than the average person, but if I quickly moved my foot from the brake to the gas, the car would just sit there for a split second ... wait for the engine to start ... and then start moving. I know it's a low probability, but I definitely felt as though that car would give me a lesser chance of a making a successful evasive maneuver if, say, I noticed an out-of-control vehicle hurtling towards me.

My newer car has features to help offset this, including brake assist or whatever fancy name they call the feature. Remove foot from brake pedal, engine starts. The key is that it stays in neutral and the brakes remain applied until you hit the gas. You just have to get in the habit of removing your foot from the brake that split second earlier so the engine is running and ready when you want it.

This is how I feel about it as well, although if I think about how slow my current old car accelerates maybe it's not enough of a difference to matter.

If I understood it correctly, Mazda specially optimized its engines for this. They align the pistons during the stop, so they can start 2x faster (~0.5sec IIRC), so faster start, more comfort, less stress on the engine due to start & stop.

I think with the latest iterations, the damage part is not that definitive.

What's the mechanism for damage?

What's being damaged and why is it worse during startup/stopping?

The tesla nav system has a lot of the data for this.

It just does not let you specifically route for energy use. You can choose to route for money (tolls), charging stops or traffic if you enabled online routing.

When you plan a trip, it has a page that shows a graph with predicted vs actual energy use. If you keep the "actual" line above the "predicted" line, you will make it, otherwise you may not.

Thing is, the predicted line clearly shows the route ahead with the slope of the curve mapping against climbs and descents.

If you read the manual it says:

"The calculation is an estimate based on driving style (predicted speed, etc.) and environmental factors (elevation changes, temperature, etc.)"

If I say to hell with the CO2 emissions and pick the fastest route always, will YouTube and Search direct me toward more climate change-oriented content? :-D

If we've learned anything from all of this it seems pretty clear that it'll start suggesting coal rolling videos and ads for a carbon fiber empty tube to replace your muffler.

Keep in mind that your car emits CO2 mainly from burning fuel.

Even if you don't care about CO2, you might want to care about burning less fuel. That stuff ain't free.

(And the beauty of CO2 taxes would be that they make worrying about fuel costs equivalent (or equivalent enough) to worrying about emissions.)

We have taxes already in the form of taxes on every gallon of gas that's sold. 50 cents or more per gallon depending on the area. It's great if you're rich and successful and work from home in tech to argue for higher taxes. Not so much when you have no choice but to travel for work and you have to spend several hundred dollars a month to do so.

I grew up in Europe. American petros prices (and petrol taxes) look extremely cheap to me in any case.

> Not so much when you have no choice but to travel for work and you have to spend several hundred dollars a month to do so.

People always have choices on the margin.

In any case, I am not arguing for a higher total tax burden. Eg I'd be very happy for the CO2 tax to be distributed equally to all voters. Or for petrol taxes to substitute for other government revenue.

Eg in my adopted home of Singapore there's a cap of about one million cars on the road total in the whole country. To operate a car, you need a Certificate of Entitlement (CoE). Each CoE is valid for ten years. Each month approximately 1% of CoE run out and are thus re-issued via an auction.

We also have pretty high pretrol taxes.

But overall government revenue is only about 15% of GDP.

I intended my post mainly tongue-in-cheek (hence the emoticon). I'll probably stick with the defaults unless it really takes me out of my way or does something like avoid freeways.

The beauty of CO2 taxes is that I pay more at the pump (at least till I can afford a Tesla) and the state gets an incentive to grift off of climate change.

This is a great example of why I figured Google Maps for navigation. I don't use Maps to express my environmental values, I use it to get from A to B the fastest way. If they default to something else, they are actively getting in the way of why I would use their product. I have no interest in activist software.

I have no issue with this. The bigger issue I have with Google Maps is that it makes zero effort to avoid dangerous routes. If two routes for a ~45 min drive are within 30 seconds of another, why would I want to risk death by taking the one with an extremely dangerous left turn through oncoming traffic? It makes zero sense.

This looks like a governmental issue in my eyes: it's the government's responsibility to ensure that the roads are reasonable safe and the traffic reasonable regulated, not Google's. If a route is dangerous, something should be done with the route itself (not the suggestion). But if Maps' suggestions breaks regulations and propose an illegal route, I agree!

The roads are mostly reasonable and safe. There are always going to be turns and intersections that are more difficult than the others. Google (and every other consumer map provider for that matter) has a habit of picking unnecessarily complex routes to shave a few seconds. Unnecessarily routing through difficult intersections and using a dozen side streets to cut the corner off a route are just specific examples of that.

You've noticed Google Maps do this? I personally find Google will take the simpler routes even if sometimes a faster route comes up while driving. Sometimes on a longer drive I'll see it is showing a greyed out route I could take that is sometimes even 5-10 minutes faster but it won't suggest it to me.

No whereas with Waze it is a lot more aggressive and it will take faster routes and shortcuts even if it means taking a gravel road to save 30 seconds.

But what you’re saying is all roads that technically conform to standards are equal in safety or should be. That does not seem realistic or practical. For example windy mountain roads vs urban freeways. Or unprotected left turns versus protected left turns. Should unprotected left turns be made illegal.

Why can’t a third party routing software assess safety? It’s not a realistic expectation to expect all roads to be equivalent in safety.

> [...] it's the government's responsibility to ensure that the roads are reasonable safe [...]

Even if you agree with that, it's still not the governments responsibility to make all possible routes exactly equally safe. (That's actually not possible, for any non-zero level of risk.)

So even if the overall risk was low and in some sense reasonable, you might still want to pick the less risky route.

Also keep in mind that different people have different risk appetites.

Where and when does the driver's responsibility come into play? Do we not have a social contract of following rules we already agreed on, or set by the Gov? What else did you want Gov to do?

> they are actively getting in the way of why I would use their product

No they aren't. They're being completely transparent about this and giving you the option to keep the old behavior with a one-time settings change. So what's the problem exactly?

Google also explicitly says that it only does it when the ETAs are very close, so realistically, it will still be doing what you want. It feels pretty extreme to write such an angry comment about maybe getting a route than 1-2% slower.

Define “close”. Is it a fixed threshold or a percentage of trip length?

I agree it's a bit vague, but realistically I would hope/think it's never more than min(2%, 5m). It obviously won't be 2m slower on a 4m ride, or 30m slower on a 5 hour ride. I don't think any reasonable person would say those are "close".

Wasn't intended to be angry. It's more frustration that I used to love Google Maps, but over the years it just gets less and less useful. I can't see street names like I used to, for instance. Now I have to have the overhead of choosing a route, when I used to know that the default is the fastest. Sure, I can turn it off in settings. But at what point does this get to be Windows Explorer, where the first thing I do on a new Windows install is invert pretty much all the settings?

I guess maybe I'd like a little bit of say in how the software I use gets updated. I don't know how that would be implemented, but this got me thinking that maybe there is a way that this software thing could be move a little closer towards a partnership than the autocratic "hey we're going to arbitrarily change this piece of software you use frequently". (You can see similar thoughts with people complaining how Big Sur uses more space, or the complaints when GMail changed things to be less dense.)

Hypothetically, given the choice between a 10 minute, higher-environmental-impact route and an 11-minute, lower-impact one: Are you really going to take the literally selfish, worse-for-the-planet route to save one minute? Wouldn't you like to make a small "sacrifice" (the choice is only given when the ETAs are similar) that might help slow the destruction of the only environment we have?

I don't think it's fair to call it "selfish". If I am someone who only drives a few thousand miles a year or even less (this is actually true for me), then wanting to save a minute or two isn't exactly selfish compared to a person who drives 10-20k miles a year. You can't really judge on the scale of one trip.

I'm fine with the feature though as long as it gives an option. In fact, I would enjoy having the new capability to optimize for fuel economy.

IF there are 10-20k "people like you" making the "not really selfish" choice, they're doing as much harm as the person who drives 10-20k miles a year.

It's about network effects. The more people we get to make the more eco-friendly choice, the better the place gets for all of us.

Actually no, if there are 10-20k people like me only driving a few thousand miles instead of 10-20k miles per year we'd be much better off! (which btw is the average in the US)

You aren't going to shame me over a few miles when I make a concerted effort to drive 1/10 of the average American, sorry.

But hey good news, Google is abandoning remote work and making its employees drive to and from work every day probably negating any benefit from this feature whatsoever.

Depends on how much impact is actually reduced by that minute. It's going to be cool to see the comparisons in the app.

To literally answer your rhetorical question: dark patterns. Not that I think the behavior is wrong - choosing the more energy efficent of two comparable manuevers just makes sense in general. But "Changes to default behavior to change consumer outcomes." are literally dark patterns and rhetorically likened to mind control whenever they want to cast a company or industry as a villain.

"Dark patterns" is what we call it when it's done in the interest of the company, and usually against the interest of the consumer. In this case, being for the public interest, it's aligned with the much more benign "Libertarian Paternalism" approach outlined in the book Nudge - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nudge_%28book%29

Do you believe humans are causing climate change? If so, how do you envision it should be addressed that doesn't involve us changing our habits?

A carbon tax.

If addressing climate change relies on people changing habits against their selfish interests, then we are doomed.

The externality should be internalised with a carbon tax. It's the simple, most obvious solution and it will cause selfish interest and ethical choices to align when it comes to carbon emission.

I prefer a "green credit" to a "carbon tax".

A tax will always be passed on to the consumer, even if the govt taxes Ford, it will just make the car more expensive.

Using game theory, a question could be "how do we get Ford to make more electric cars, improve efficiency of electric car production, and incentivize them to advertise electric cars?"

My take is that businesses drive change, not consumers. On the whole, consumers are told what they want.

Of course it makes the ICE car more expensive (when including fuel costs). That's the whole idea.

Consumers will see that EVs are cheaper (post-tax) and will switch to EVs as a consequence.

You can make the tax revenue neutral.

The whole point of a carbon tax is to be passed on to the consumer. That's a feature, not a bug.

Consumer want cars (and appliances in general) that, all else being equal, are cheaper to own and use.

With a carbon tax, Ford can decide whether they want to offer more efficient ICE or electric cars to reach that goal.

(And consumers can decide whether to use any of these options that Ford offers, or to just drive less.

Or, for some, to just suck up the cost and drive the same as before.)

This is not making sense. Credit is necesarily coming from some place, that is in most likely tax revenue, so it is mostly in same as a tax but with more steps and smaller direct impact. Also not correct, some tax can often be absorb by producer. You are making wrong question: goal is for to reduce carbon not producing more electric cars. This is possibly meaning different mode of transport, some things maybe remote, bicycles, trains, others. Carbon tax is enabling persons to make decision about best outcome and create the minimal of economic damage. Our needed outcome is createing tax for cost of carbon capture for every ton made of carbon in atomosphere. In ideal, this become a method for which any business can starting carbon capture, can receiving a simpel certification. Any person is then capable of finding any other person for to do his carbon capture and then producing appropriate credit form for government. This has making of capture all carbon in eventually and also creating lowest price with insentive for new developing technology.

> Our needed outcome is createing tax for cost of carbon capture for every ton made of carbon in atomosphere.

That's one outcome, but not the only one. Things like emission taxation make sense, even if there's no remediation financed with the proceeds.

See eg the sulphur dioxide emissions cap and trade program. (https://voxeu.org/article/lessons-climate-policy-us-sulphur-...) I don't think they used the proceeds to fund sulphur dioxide capture.

> This is possibly meaning different mode of transport, some things maybe remote, bicycles, trains, others.

Yes, exactly. Also: just forgoing some trips. Or driving more efficiently etc.

When the carbon tax* was introduced in Australia our tax free threshold was increased from $6k to $18k which more than covered the increase in costs caused by the tax.

*This has since been repealed, a decision I strongly disagree with.

I believe canada proposed doing it by taking all the money collected through the carbon tax and giving it equally to all Canadian citizens. This would mean everyone gets back the amount that the average person paid, making it so the average person sees no change in their level of taxation. (It also has the effect of turning it into a highly progressive tax)

When you propose a "green credit" instead of a "carbon tax", what do you mean? Is it just a different name for the same thing, or would it work differently? If it would work differently, then HOW? I'm assuming that a carbon tax would put a fixed tax per weight of C02 released charged either to the end-user or somewhere higher in the value chain (eg: a gas tax).

it's a subsidy vs a tax.

That sounds pretty bad.

I'd want to put driving-less on similar footing to buying a fancier car.

A carbon tax does that automatically with no extra bureaucracy.

(I'm all for taking the proceeds of a carbon tax and distributing them equally amongst all voters, if you want to make the whole thing revenue neutral for both the government and the 'average' consumer.)

Quit eating factory beef.

Not pinning the onus on individuals, but instead addressing the leverage points such as the corporate emissions regulations and enforcement mechanisms that exist today.

I think that is a false dichotomy, GP might care and want to change habits, but considers car exhaust such a small piece of the problem that it isn't worth changing driving habits. I'm not saying that is right, simply pointing out it isn't certain GP doesn't value changing habits.

If you need the extra 5 minutes, it seems possible to turn the feature off or ignore it. It seems pretty dumb to me too, but at least it will bring some awareness to climate change, right?

>>I don't use Maps to express my environmental values

Actually, you do. Your environmental values happen to be efficiency (Km/hour) trumps efficiency (Km/gram of CO2). You wish the software to continue to express only your environmental values. It is an activist stance nonetheless.

What percentage of the limited time in your life is worth what level of impact on climate change?

Do something much more likely to be useful: implement a reasonable, even revenue-neutral carbon tax and stop with this non-sense.

This is complex and will vary significantly by person. But for anyone the answer is almost certainly non-zero. Even if only marginally. And the trend seems to be increasing.

The second part of your comment, seems to assume only one kind of action is possible. Others might say, great let's do both.

I cannot respond to throwawayboise directly because of thread limitations.

On its face, this argument is clearly wrong. "Absolutely nothing", is not equivalent to extremely little. Especially when, as in the case of Google Maps, there is a large multiplier.

Elections are a different beast. Assuming first-past-the-post system where impact is only at the margin (50.0001%).

Whereas direct action on CO2 production is incremental. We can argue it's not enough, but we cannot argue it is literally nothing.

> On its face, this argument is clearly wrong. "Absolutely nothing", is not equivalent to extremely little. Especially when, as in the case of Google Maps, there is a large multiplier.

It makes sense to look at these things normalised per-capita.

So for Google, making a small change has a big impact per-Googler, but it's still a small change per-capita.

Making a small per-capita change is still a small change overall.

See https://www.withouthotair.com/c19/page_114.shtml

Though we might agree on the first premise below, there is an error in subsequent logical consequences:

"small changes alone are not enough" -> "only big changes can work" -> "small change X ought not to be undertaken"

To me parts of this looks like the fallacy of the excluded middle. To claim that X has some merit is not to claim that X on its own has sufficient merit. I apologise if you are not making such an argument, but throwawayboise and arsome certainly seem to have been. And such arguments are far from uncommon.

I do see your point about scale and multipliers but I believe efforts like these are important not only for their admittedly small yet not negligible impact, but also to help establish a foundation for the next steps that should be taken.

In the eighties, the cost-effectiveness of wind-power was way off the charts. However, you'd quantify it. Per turbine, per $, per power consumer. Turbines were just small and inefficient with few deployments. Now, many incremental improvements later, the same technology is in the right ballpark. It's a good thing those pioneers like Vestas didn't just give up when the absolute impact seemed far too small.

> "small changes alone are not enough" -> "only big changes can work" -> "small change X ought not to be undertaken"

I agree that this is wrong.

To make small changes do a lot, you have to have a lot of them.

You can still judge small changes by how much bang they provide for the buck. (Or more formally, employ the standard marginalist framework of economics.) A small impact is fine, if the cost was small, too.

Wind-power (and other renewables) are a bit complicated too judge on these historic efficiency measures, because there was so much government interference.

(I think government should perhaps tax CO2 and other emissions, but not offer any subsidies. I want eg turning the lights on less be on the same footing as switching to 'green' energy suppliers.)

(I also don't think the government subsidies for wind and photovoltaic actually helped that much in the long run. Eg as you can see, once the subsidies ran out, the photovoltaic industry mostly left Germany for China.)

There is absolutely nothing I can do individually that will have any impact whatsoever on CO2 levels or the climate. Nothing. One person's activity is simply too small a contributor. By the same token, whether I vote or not, or who I vote for, is also irrelevant in the outcome of elections.

To pseudo-quote quote Clay Shirky: nothing will work, everything might.

Google doesn't implement taxes, so these aren't substitutes.

The quoted paragraph clearly states that the lower-emissions route will only be given by default when there are multiple routes with a similar ETA. So it will never tell you to take a route that takes longer just to reduce your emissions, without also telling you about the shorter route with higher emissions.

Since you have seemingly already abandoned google maps due to their activism before reading this story, what were the other reasons that made you quit?

How is the fastest route not the least carbon footprint?

Because the fastest route doesn't have to be the shortest route. Where I live, it's often faster to drive in the opposite direction of my destination to get on a highway. It's generally slower (by a tiny amount) to take surface streets.

The only thing that matters for your car's carbon footprint is how much gas you use. So regardless of time, if you have more gas in the tank at the end of your trip, your carbon footprint is lower.

The faster you go, the more your fuel efficiency decreases. For the most part this is due to wind resistance, because there is a velocity^2 argument there(ie if you double your velocity, you quadruple your wind resistance). Your engine is also designed to operate more efficiently at certain speeds but that is less directly quantifiable than wind resistance.

So you might be able to get 40MPG while doing a steady 40 mph, but only get 20MPG when doing 80mph.

So if you need to go 40 miles, if you can do it at 80mph it will take you 30 minutes, and will cost you 2 gallons of fuel. If you do it at 40mph it will take you 1 hour and cost you 1 gallon of fuel. So in this contrived example the longer trip has a lower carbon footprint.

In the real world, there are rarely two parallel roads going exactly the same place but just with a different speed limit. Usually you need to drive out of your way to get onto a highway to make your trip go faster. On the other hand driving directly at a slower speed usually entails more starts/stops at traffic lights which eats into your fuel efficiency. Google is probably in a good place to answer the question of how fuel efficient is a given route because they have so much data about average speeds, accelerations/decelerations required/ etc.

Efficiency drops sharply at high speed.

For long distance driving speed is key. Highways can be faster even when they are indirect. This is what the OSMAnd "Fuel Efficient Way" routing is based on. It biases towards the shortest routes that may have lower speed limits. This is nice for road trips and bicycling, but can be quirky with city driving.

OK...so google just fixed maps then. I don't know anyone who wants to get on the highway if they don't have to.

Maybe it's the shortest total distance, but has a lot of stop lights along the way causing frequent total stops/starts

The reason for the enactment of the nationwide 55mph speed limit in 1974 wasn't safety, it was oil prices.

Yes, though like many other American reactions to the oil shock, this was pretty silly.

High petrol prices automatically discourage speeding. (Just as a carbon tax would.)

Of course, the US also had price controls on petrol. And the ensuing long queues and fights at the petrol station.

Their anarcho-capitalist utopian neighbour [1] to the north did not enact price controls for petrol, and subsequently did not see any queues or fights.

[1] Only half joking here: in many respects Canada is more what we'd call neoliberal today than the US. Compare also https://www.alt-m.org/2015/07/29/there-was-no-place-like-can...

It looks like part of the carbon footprint model is based on road inclines and traffic congestion.

For example, a super-fast route that's up an extremely-steep incline on the way may technically be faster from point A to B, but would be less carbon efficient than taking a slightly-longer route that is flatter.

Driving a Chevy Volt (with an 18 kWh battery) makes you very aware of the different fuel-costs of different routes -- I very often have a choice of driving "over" or "around" small mountains (~hundreds of feet of elevation change, not ~thousands), and you can easily see the battery drop as you go up, up, up and it doesn't always recover much going down, down, down.

Going up and down mountains should be mostly a wash, apart from these small losses.

What's really eating into your battery in a way you can't recover with regenerative breaking ever is wind resistance.

Routes that make you drive faster for longer cost more energy. (And given the way wind resistance works, for the same average speed, a variable speed is more expensive than a constant one.)

Optimal regenerative braking recovers like 2/3 of the energy lost, and suboptimal braking -- for instance, if you need to decelerate more rapidly because of a bend in the road -- is worse.

Every 100 feet of elevation change amounts to ~1% of the battery capacity of a Chevy Volt; a couple of small mountains, with lots of ups and downs, and it's easy to lose 5-10% of your range versus taking a more level route, 5% if you brake well, 10% if you brake poorly.

[Which is not to say that hitting the thruway doesn't also kill your range fast.]

Downshifting is the devil.

Idling downhill costs less gas but may lead you in the wrong direction for a short while, vs going over a hilly route where you must accelerate uphill more often.

As a simple, unimaginative example. I'm sure you can think of others if you put in the time.

Everybody is trying to explain that it's fine or that you should care or whatever, but the real counterpoint is that Google doesn't care what mapping app a few motivated cranks use.

On average people won't even notice.

Wow, I'm impressed, I've never been downvoted to -4 before. I wouldn't have expected that this would be the post to get that, though.

“I have no interest in activist software” that’s my exact sentiment.

Provide the option, sure. Plenty of people care enough to use it.

But don’t force it on me. I’ll find software that actually wants to serve its purpose.

What if they released the exact same product as "minimize fuel cost if it doesn't take more time" and set that to default? You can still change to "fastest" if that's your preference.

My personal annoyance: their walking directions assume you don't know parkour and there isn't even an option for that

I genuinely cannot tell if that last bit is sarcasm or not!

It's a near-truth, told to own my selfish tendencies while I'm on the topic of somebody else's. The truth being that I don't want that info from google, rather I delight in beating its time. I do wish that I could dial in a walking speed, though, and so do people with reduced mobility.

If you read the article, there's an option in the settings to not have this option "forced" on you. Even when it's "forced", it's only defaulting to more carbon-positive routes when the ETAs are comparable, so it shouldn't have much of an effect on whether you care about the feature or not.

FTA but not the main point of this thread: we’re now able to bring Live View to some of the trickiest-to-navigate places indoors: airports, transit stations and malls.

Seems to me that these are the easiest places to navigate indoors, because of the plentiful signage. Malls probably the hardest of the three, but still pretty easy IMO. I've never had any issue finding a gate or baggage claim at an airport, since there are signs every 10 feet or so.

A lot of bigger underground transit stations are literal mazes! Even in the somewhat smaller ones in e.g. Tokyo, you can easily get lost as a tourist or first-time visitor.

I'm sure this will be valuable to people especially with accessibility needs.

I definitely could have used some indoor navigation when trying to find stuff underground in Japan, like looking for T's TanTan in Tokyo Station (amazing ramen, try it if you get the chance).

Took me a while to figure out it's actually behind the ticket booth, and that you can only access it if you're taking a train (or have bought a ticket just for ramen).

Even the Tokyo metro with its massive stations filled with people were pretty easy to navigate as an English speaker with no knowledge of Japanese. Signs all over the place!

Underground transit stations can be a huge pain in the ass to find the right exit for, when you want to come out going a particular direction, because you have no sense of cardinal directions while underground.

For this reason I've more or less given up on finding the right exit in big subway station, I just find the fastest way to ground level and go from there!

Yeah this is always my go to option. However in London at least each exit gets a number and city mapper will tell you the correct one to use. If you're going to a big landmark it will also be signposted in the station which helps. I would still rather just get above ground and figure it out then.

This will be awesome in countries where I can't read the signage.

Depends on what you’re looking for. Finding the approved ride share pickup spot can be pretty tricky in some airports. It can also be hard to identify and communicate exactly where you are on the curb (where’s “gate 6”?).

> Finding the approved ride share pickup spot can be pretty tricky in some airports.

This may be by design - the local taxi mafia usually gets the front door and then the rideshare pickup is somewhere out of the way with bad signage.

> easiest places to navigate indoors, because of the plentiful signage.

You should try getting around Toronto's main transit hub "Union Station". Legend has it the TV show Amazing Race lost contestants for several days after they were trapped in undecipherable signage hell! Good luck to Google.

Yes, there is typically good signage in airports and transit stations, but two main factors will make this a game-changer:

1. airports are a place where a non-insignificant number of visitors have never been there before and may be unfamiliar with the language of the signage. 2. ever been late to a flight? That's a high-stress situation wherein you may be more likely to become frustrated with signage and any human-made error can lead to you missing your flight.

Of course, these two do not usually apply to malls, but still a pretty handy feature there (IMO the less time spent navigating a mall the happier I am).

I think they're saying it's tricky for humans, not for AIs. And I for one do find new train stations in new cities confusing. :)

This is the opposite of a map. A map helps you build a mental model for how you navigate space by showing you a broad view of the land, potentially enabling you to navigate to anywhere. This offloads the effort of learning, such that you don’t learn to navigate the space yourself, and only gets you from one point to another.

You are right, but most people want navigational aid, not map. Maps were popular because they were good navigational aid, not because they help building mental model. If better navigational aid becomes available, most people will gladly abandon map's mental model building feature.

Not if you experience the self exploration of the world around you as a fun activity. This map disables mindfulness.

This is not a new thing. Google maps were hard to use as a map (on mobile, but on desktop too due to horrible styling) for a looong time for the purpose you state.

We just snap a photo of a tourist or transit paper map and use that on holidays. Way faster and easier to use for just walking around or planning a non-direct transit route.

Even a basic information like, "will we be walking up a hill" is hard to see on gmaps. Even on terrain overlay, the shading is sloppy an imprecise, and contour lines are a mess (too sparse, and marked too sparsely), no hills are marked with height so it's hard to see what's up/down.

Same location (lol):



Google Maps is horrible for use as just a map. I like to use an external Garmin GPS device in my car (with my own custom high-contrast map theme[1]) because it works so well as a HUD map. I rarely set a route, but I frequently refer to it while driving, and as a result I get to know the roads I drive on quite quickly. One of my favourite features is the blue line it paints on the map behind you, which makes it easy to orient yourself when driving in a place you've already been.

[1]: For some reason, both Google Maps and Apple Maps have terrible contrast, to the point where they're completely unusable for me in dark mode, especially while driving. Apple Carplay is useless to me for this reason. Garmin's default map theme is pretty decent, but they actually let you change map themes, and load custom ones if you're so inclined. So I made the street lines bright and bold, with high-contrast keylines. It's an absolute joy to use now.

Disagree. A navigational aid such as Google Maps is only good as long as you know your exact destination in advance. If for some reason you can't, or you need to orient yourself in an area, or even understand the route you're on, or - God forbid - plan a trip involving multiple destinations - Google Maps is incredibly hard to use.

I'm not quite sure what you mean; I've been quite happy with Google Maps's support for multiple stops. And as for the other thing: "If you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there".

What I mean is, it's nice if you input the exact location or locations that you want to visit. It sucks when you're trying to plan a trip - exploring what's in the area, possible routes there. At that stage, you may not have any concrete stop in mind, you're just trying to tentatively evaluate options. Google Map's interface makes this task very hard. It also sucks when you're trying to orient yourself - i.e. understand what the map shows in relation to where you stand. In particular, the way it goes out of its way to hide street names is very annoying.

The latter two use cases are exactly what a map is supposed to be for. Hence, Google Maps suck at being a map.

Exactly! Using GPS etc to navigate actively inhibits your ability to learn to navigate yourself. A friend of mine got a car with satnav built in years ago. After living in the same city for more than a decade he still can't get around without it.

Exactly, I feel the title should be more "Redefining what Google Maps® can be with new information". And as you noted, this app is not really a map.

Regardless of the semantic shift that there is probably no way to stop now, I'm hoping real maps will still be around, they are the best tool to give you spacial awareness at different scales.

What I want is an option to find the route with the least amount of turns. I live in a place with little to no urban planning and extremely confusing street layout, and Google will consistently choose very twisty routes, only to later zoom out the map and find that I could have followed an L or S shaped route with just one or two turns.

As mentioned in another reply, Apple Maps many times suggests the “simplest” path (I believe it’s the minimum number of turns, but I’m not sure) as an option next to the fastest route. I think it’s my favorite feature of Apple Maps, and it’s the primary reason I use it over Google Maps.

Thanks for the tip. Is Apple Maps available for Android? Anyway, my girlfriend has iPhone, I will ask her to look for a few routes so we can compare.

I got a route from them recently that wanted me to turn left on a six lane road, no traffic light, to make a quick right turn from the farthest lane, during rush hour.

The widest road where I live is only two lanes (per side), but it still wanted me to make an U turn in the middle of the road, with several cars tailing behind me and trucks coming in the opposite direction!

There are many reasonable requests like this - I would love an option to take a scenic route when I have time, to see a new countryside just behind a hill from a highway I usually travel through.

Or city transport route with as few changes as possible, to enjoy the booknor to make travelling with toddler easier.

Guess these won't get a middle manager a promotion for rising some key metric, though.

I find it more believable that Google attracts engineers who want to save the environment than Google is secretly manipulating the routes of the masses for profit.

> than Google is secretly manipulating the routes of the masses for profit

That's the first I hear of this conspiracy, are there really people that believe this? FUD has honestly gotten out of control into very strange territory.

Take a peek at some of the other comments on this thread hinting or outright suggesting it.

Well... things did get kind of fishy with Waze after Google bought it. Waze made money by showing you ads for things along your route when you weren't moving. How do you maximize the dollar signs in that equation? Maybe they stopped doing that in favor of a model that has less "conflict of use cases", but I wouldn't know.

What I want to know is how much increasing volume and congestion on the greenest route reduces its greenness.

Both are possible. Google is a very big place.

There's two options I would love in Maps.

1) "I already know this part" where the navigator is muted for part of the journey and you can just get directions for the parts you don't know. I feel like this is a very common occurrence for people but we just leave the navigation on and it consumes the battery (increasing carbon footprint) and distracts us (increasing danger)

2) Multi-method transit. It's a nice day out. I don't want to drive directly to my destination. Show me free parking and let me walk half a mile to finish. This would also encourage more people to walk and be a far greener option.

> it consumes the battery (increasing carbon footprint)

Using web-searched estimates, the carbon cost of leaving this on constantly for a full year is approximately equivalent to the carbon cost of one single liter of petrol.

Totally agree with the [1]. I have experienced it many times.

I am surprised that no one mentioned www.abetterrouteplanner.com yet, which is EV-oriented and takes into account not only charging stations (and their power output), but also elevation changes to account for regen filling up the battery and providing increased range.

Also has an in-car mode that is somewhat usable for cars that have an integrated web browser with access to location data.

As someone that's renting a EV for a few months, I quickly realized GMaps was kinda useless in actually planning longer trips. ABRP has worked very well for me, and given me peace of mind when planning long trips over the mountains in winter times.

Yeah, Google Maps is pretty useless for EV cars. I wonder why they care about indoor navigation and pickup stuff so much, when EV cars is the thing of this decade.

Driving with low carbon emission can only mean driving with a speed that is (much) smaller then the allowed maximum speed outside of cities. E.g. 80km/h (or even 70) instead of the allowed 100km/h in Germany. This way I can reduce my fuel consumption by at least 30%.

With Google Maps driving and reaching the ETA is very stressful (and burns a lot of gas) as you often have to "max out" the speed limits. I guess the AI that is used is based on the average person that drives like this and/or does not care about the speed limits (which is the case here in Germany). And so I doubt that anything ecologically can come out of an AI that is based on the current state. To change something you would have to assist people how to reduce fuel consumption.

This would have many advantages: it would reduce stress and accidents (people would be less willing to overtake a 'slower' car) and the time of arrival would be only 2-4 minutes later on a 1 hour trip.

When you calculate the shortest path in a road network, you usually take the distance and divide it by the speed limit to determine the weight of the edges.

To be fancy you also do things like account for deceleration and acceleration at nodes (turns).

Artificially capping the speed limit is easy. You often do this for things like tractors that don't drive at the speed limit.

If people want to drive under a certain speed it's a trivial technical problems for the individual vehicle and path finding.

I'm not sure the calculations are made individually however, so an individual speed limit may be a non trivial problem

As you mentioned tractors, it's pretty sad one can't define usual/max driving speeds on Google Maps. Applies to e-bikes, tractors, cars with trailers, etc

This is a good point, and navigation apps like Google Maps could perfectly tell you something like "On this section driving at x km/h would save y€ of gas for only z minutes added".

So they'll default to showing directions for biking, walking, and transit?

A pet peeve of mine is that google maps doesn't show most transit routes on the map. There is a transit layer you can enable, but it only shows metro and light rail, not buses, brt, trams, ferries, etc.

This is a problem with GTFS. Firstly, that GTFS has separate enumerators for trains vs. buses, and only shows stuff that identifies itself as trains, but also because most agencies do not provide route shapes that are good enough to display. Often the routes run right down the centerlines of roads, cut through buildings at corners, etc. There would have to be a revolution in local government agency GIS quality control before it works right.

I feel like Google itself could probably clean up the route presentation, given their own understanding of the roads.

Technically it sounds feasible, but they'd want to avoid being accused of undermining the open data of the GTFS ecosystem.

My pet peeve is that there is no hybrid bike/transit routing option. If you choose transit, they assume you are pedestrian. Maybe the option is there and I just have not found it.

They started doing this in Tokyo with the latest rollout which included the Live view (about 2 months ago?). I was also aggressively peeved by it.

I believe Citymapper has the edge on multi-modal routing, at least if they support your city.

Citymapper at least tries, but is still bad for bike+public transport.

I look at the options that Citymapper gives and then have to recalculate the route, in my head, correcting for wrong decisions about where I'll have access to a bike.

(Yes, it'll be quicker if I cycle my own bike from my home to the nearest station. No, I won't be cycling a hire bike 111 minutes away from its closest docking port.)

At least for cars, it makes little sense because the dominant factor is going to be the time on the road, which they in theory have been trying to minimize already.

Any additional micro-optimizations are going to be fractional.

Unless of course they optimize for me not driving under a train bridge with my camper. That would be a big help. I wish they took into account the vehicle you are driving.

I've been looking at OSMAnd's nav settings while reading this thread, and they do indeed let you create a driving profile that includes vehicle dimensions and max speed!

Can you elaborate? I'm not sure I understood. I've never driven a camper.

I assume they mean the bridge clearance vs vehicle height. /r/11foot8 has some amusing examples.

I'm happy about this, and I really hope they provide a transparent explanation why they suggest each route. I would welcome a list of the primary attributes of each suggested route like "this route has many stoplights", "this highway can be dangerous during twilight", "this route avoids quiet neighborhoods".

One routing algorithm I'm really hoping for:

Instead of navigating to a point, I wish Google Maps would let me draw a circle on the map and navigate to wherever within the circle I can drive to the quickest.

Often, Google will send me on a circuitous route to the destination pin, which takes ten minutes longer than it would to go to the parking lot off the big avenue a couple blocks away.

Yes. These are good ones. I'd be happy to pay for such "premium features" if they wanna make money

Seems like a creative way of saying that after a decade+ they've finally decided to listen to everyone who's been saying they don't wanna take three left turns in rush hour traffic to save an average of 15sec on a 2hr trip.

So it'll only show walking directions?

I get that you're being flippant, but I did have a coworker who calculated the carbon footprint of his commute for various modes of transport, including walking. He came to the conclusion that, given the average amount of CO2 produced per calorie consumed, riding an e-bike was actually the lowest-impact way.

That assumes you would be eating more to compensate for the activity. Many people, because they spend so much time in their car or just being sedentary otherwise, actually need to go out of their way to exercise (e.g. in a treadmill in a gym). And for people who don’t already exercise, the marginal increase in CO2 is probably worth it for society.

Practical example: I primarily walk and cycle, used to have a car but no longer do. I need to get 1-1.5 hours of walking in a day for my health. I chose walking because it is specifically calorie inefficient and unlikely to make me hungry like running or cycling.

If I can walk for all my business, I no longer need to take a separate walk in the evening to get my exercise. If I drive a car or ride the e-bike (the e part robs you off fitness benefit) I now need to take a separate dedicated walk.

If you consider that the CDC wants every American exercising several hours a week, I think your friend’s analysis would come out differently.

Also the analysis should factor in the reality that walking 6 miles will likely not trigger the same level of calorie intake increase as running or biking 6 miles; it is very easy to e.g. run and actually consume far more than you burned due to appetite response.

> I chose walking because it is specifically calorie inefficient

Surely you mean calorie efficient?

If you’re trying to lose weight (I am), or not gain weight in a western culture that encourages a high level of consumption, you want something that is inefficient.

I can get from point A to point B faster and with less energy expenditure (I think) on a bike.

Theoretically running is even more inefficient (depending on speed apparently) but I hate doing it and it spikes my appetite in a way that makes dieting unsustainable. Maybe it’s genetic, I remember my dad going through a phase where he ran enough to the point where he could do a half marathon while obese; he easily consumed more than he burned despite a very heavy training schedule.

I can walk for 30 minutes, an hour, two hours, or almost literally all day and still eat less than I use which is extremely efficient for my goals but extremely inefficient at making me fat.

This analysis omits an important detail which I wrote about in a different thread a week or so ago: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=26541860

Does this factor in battery manufacturing / vehicle body manufacturing / varying gas efficiencies / etc.?

The question is borne of the understanding that electric vehicles merely frontload your carbon footprint, rather than eliminating it.

I got around that by making my ebike out of recycled UPS batteries, and a bicycle I already owned.

That way, the only source of carbon was making the additional drivetrain components.

Excellent, innovative, bravo! Unfortunately the vast majority of e-bikes are not DIY'd and so require new batteries for operation.

Indeed. Though, there are suppliers that will sell you thousands and thousands and batteries recycled from former low-stress applications at fair prices, so it would probably be feasible to set up commercially?

If you ever set up a business around this, let me know! I am woefully ignorant of these suppliers you reference.

I have read that cyclists who only eat beef generate more CO2 per mile than a hybrid car, though that presumably that ignores all the carbon cost of building cars and car infrastructure. Bikes are still better in pretty much every way.


Do cyclists have drastically different diets than car-drivers? In my experience there is more overlap between cyclists and vegetarians than carnivores.


Even if this is true (I think it's absurd because drivers eat meat too), it doesn't account for the fact that bicycles are slower than cars, so people who commute by bike will travel (much) fewer miles per day than the average car commuter.

It ignores so many factors that the result doesn't matter in any way other than to create a clickbait article.

So the wheel is efficient, and a low mess wheel more efficient.


Until you have an accident and require lots of carbon intensive medical treatment, and your ebike is trashed. Disclaimer: I ride and love ebikes.

I don't have accidents, accidents have me. I refuse to ride the road anymore. Wisdom.

Yeah because walking is accident-free and cars are so much cheaper and carbon-friendlier to repair than bicycles.

Electric bicycles are notorious for high rate of injury accidents involving motor vehicles. Injuries tend to be similar to motorcycle/car collisions.

Either you're being purposely obtuse or you honestly believe the accident rate between walking and riding an electric vehicle is the same.

was the manufacturing of the e-bike considered?

Wow he must be quite the farter.

All privacy concerns aside --- this seems like a very valuable addition to the map service.

Concerning indoor navigation: My minor concern is that I will take minor deviations eg. in an Airport, to pass by a potent Google add customer instead taking the shortest path.

They could also just call it "uses less gas"

Electric vehicle and trains don't use gas

Yeah, they just use coal somewhere you don't see it.

They just use whatever the source for your power is which is so varied you couldn't ever assume. And even the same fuel source going to a power station to generate electricity for your car is massively more efficient than an ICE engine that regularly starts/stops and idles.

I find it hilarious that the GIF showing it in action at the airport is giving totally wrong directions.

It sais "Go down one level to Floor 2", to apparently reach gate E27. However, if you go down this escalator, all you will find is 2 train tracks with trains taking you out of the airport. You indeed need to take a train to gates E, but those depart from a totally different location.

Sounds like a good idea in theory but in many places in the US when you get off the highway you get a major drop off in the quality of roads and availability of food/gas. If you really care about reducing your CO2 the best option is significantly reducing your travel not slightly optimizing you routes.

> Google Maps will soon default to the route with the lowest carbon footprint

This is not the title of the blog. And that matters because this doesn't make sense.

The fastest route should be the lowest carbon footprint, which it should currently default too.

"road incline and traffic congestion"

I find it unlikely road incline makes 'any' significant percentage difference. I'd want to see the mathematics on this. Adding this complexity seems like PR BS.

'Traffic congestion' might make a difference, sitting still in traffic might be better than going around. Not good for your mental health though.

How about better directions so we make less wrong turns and also save on CO2 emissions. How about better predictions on congestion. A better product will do both.

The whole thing reads like PR BS to me. Touting AI as a cure-all to make up for getting bashed about it lately.

What about this is AI? This is all perfectly doable with "classical" algorithms.

> What about this is AI?

The PR Title - "Redefining what a map can be with new information and AI". And the PR last line - "All of these updates are possible thanks to AI advancements"

And that might be it.

> "classical" algorithms

They probably just need to change a constant on the time to tell the user to change lanes and they'd make a difference on screw ups.

The fact Apple now says "sorry" when it makes a mistake is quite clever, it's a quick word to stop confusion for repeated instructions.

I do think the voice on maps needs work, and it matters. Text to Voice might be 'AI'

You have found yourself on a comment thread only discussing the eco-friendly routing option, which requires nothing but a fancier version of Dijkstra's algorithm.

Can Amazon match them and show you the carbon footprint comparison for competitive products?

Judging by the state of other metadata there, every single third-party product would have "carbon footprint <1g".

LiveView indoor navigation looks very cool.

Though I can envisage some places where the dataset might be a little “out of date”, where you end up being directed to the car park or a completely empty floor in the mall.

Well, if I’m driving a van, I’d expect to avoid stop and go streets to minimize fuel use. When I’m in my hybrid, I can take those stop signs like a champ. Will Google Maps support that type of logic?

Wonder what it would take to get my company to go green in this way.

Having worked with a client on this to dabble in the sustainability space, quantifying to them the economic cost savings and potential PR boost. Worked with their facilities, marketing, purchasing, and HR teams. Identify and prioritize changes possible that provide the largest impact (can employees work from home avoiding a commute? can a renewable power purchase agreement be negotiated? what does the supply chain look like and is there any leverage to encourage suppliers to use renewables and sustainable practices?).

I recommend "Small Actions, Big Difference: Leveraging Corporate Sustainability to Drive Business and Societal Value" [1] on the topic to get started.

[1] https://smile.amazon.com/Small-Actions-Big-Difference-Bhatta...

Does Google use Filament [1] for this AR stuff or do they have something completely different? I mean using something else would be a huge waste from my little point of view ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

[1] Filament is a real-time physically based rendering engine for Android, iOS, Windows, Linux, macOS, and WebGL2 - https://github.com/google/filament

About time!

I've been complaining to google for years about it aggressively recommending and rerouting onto a 20+ mile long detour around the east bay to save a minute by its own estimation (but probably lose several minutes much of the time, in reality).

I also filed complaints with CARB and the state legislature because google was unresponsive.

Extra 20 miles and shorter by a minute : I'd guess the other route is a hell to drive. Bad roads / congestion / stoplights / low speed limits/ etc

We've accidentally conducted the experiment multiple times-- heading from northern Marin into SF with visitors in another car and failed to tell them to ignore the google 'faster route' -- they arrive much later after detouring through the east bay and getting stuck in traffic coming down to the bay bridge or inside SF.

I have no idea how Maps estimation works, but it's easy to imagine that it could make a decision based on a brief delay that will likely have cleared before you arrived, while the path it suggested congested ahead of you.

Even if they even managed to accurately give a solution that was correct in the expectation, a much longer route is almost always going to have a much higher 95th percentile time (unless the shorter route has a train or drawbridge or similar).

If given a choice between of an alternative that would be 1 minute faster on average but never more than 2 minutes faster and 5% of the time you're advised to use it it's actually >30 minutes slower-- which would you take?

But I doubt they're particularly accurate in terms of the expectation in any case-- at least not relative to traffic driven 1 minute differences.

Aside, I drive a stick, so I don't especially love stop and go-- but Maps has done far worse to me in an effort to avoid some stop and go on an arterial road, e.g. sending me off onto extremely hilly residential streets clogged with other drivers, leaving me chirping the tires to avoid rolling into the bumpers behind me in the Maps congo line.

It's better to be in congestion on a road that was designed for it than to still be in congestion on some detour in an area where the roads weren't designed for heavy through traffic.

I tried out the live view in Tokyo, but the constant warnings about "don't use it while walking" (which are often false positives anyway, and regardless of the concept that I'm pretty sure when it's safe to hold up a phone being a 28yo adult) make it basically unusable for me.

If it's about using less fuel, why not just market it as economy mode.

Won't the fastest route generally have the lowest carbon footprint anyway? Traveling at high speed on a highway will use less gas/distance than traveling through stop start traffic.

They default to showing the walking path?

Will it still go through 3 farms and hope you don't mind pushing your car up a hillside goat track?

Caulk the wagon and float it across.

Why aren't their map screenshots cluttered with business markers? Can I turn this off?

Sometimes I feel like the advertising dollars I give Google get put into a nameless machine. Sometimes I feel like they come out, converted to magic that the world benefits from, such as Google maps. It's been one of the biggest use cases of tech for me in my life. In awe that never again I might stand frustrated in the middle of an airport looking for my gate when I've only a few minutes left to get there.

I just want "route with the lowest chances of catching a bullet, stray or otherwise"

.google eh

What happens if these “lowest carbon footprint” routes overlaps with high crime “waze avoid areas” ? Which takes precedence, Virtue signaling or driver safety?


Taking an alternate route to avoid CO2 emissions is basically the opposite of virtue signaling: it actually has a real world impact, and doesn't "signal" to anybody because no one else on the road can even tell whether you're taking the low-carbon route or not.

"Virtue signalling" is just conservative-speak for "anything I don't like" used to avoid actually having to engage with peoples concerns.

Don't bother talking to people like that under the assumption they're acting in good faith, just downvote and move along.

Did April fools come early this year?

It is April 1st in may parts of the world already

I sure hope so, this has to be a joke!

Why would this be a joke?

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