May 28, 2024

Google Maps will politely pester Australian travellers to take public transport or walk to their destination in one of several of green changes coming to the service.

Users who still intend to drive to their destination will be shown the most fuel-efficient route and electric vehicle drivers will be able to search for nearby charging stations.

The tech giant announced the features on Monday, to celebrate Earth Day, though some will not be available immediately or in all locations.

Google Maps’s director, Andrew Foster, said the tools being added to the company’s navigation app were designed to encourage drivers to make more sustainable transport choices.

Fuel-efficient routes, which will be shown in the app from Monday, will use artificial intelligence to identify paths that use the least energy, even if they take more time.

Google Maps users will be able to specify whether they are driving a petrol, hybrid, diesel or electric vehicle to help determine the most energy-efficient route.

But users in Sydney and Melbourne could be prompted to travel in even more environmentally friendly ways in future, as the app will deliver suggestions showing public transport or walking alternatives if travel times are similar or better.

“This feature prompts people to consider more environmentally friendly alternatives,” Foster said.

“It builds on our longstanding partnerships with local transport authorities to promote public transport and provide real-time information.”

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The new feature is expected to launch in Australia’s two biggest cities in the “coming weeks”. The changes will be in addition to showing the locations of electric vehicle charging stations – something rolled out globally this year that will first appear in vehicles with Google software built-in.

Apple also added details of electric vehicle charging stations to its mapping app in 2022, though the feature is only available in some high-end vehicles in the United States.

Earth Day is an annual event held on 22 April in support of environmental protection.

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