How Google Maps Will Determine the Best Route on Android and Android Auto

Google Maps is right now the top navigation app worldwide 4 photos
Photo: autoevolution
Google Maps on Android AutomotiveGoogle Maps route suggestionFuel efficient route in Google Maps
Google Maps was, is, and will continue to be the world’s number one navigation app, and with Google working on more and more improvements that are available free of charge for everybody out there, this makes total sense.
But at the same time Google Maps is also evolving to align with the changing trends in the automotive industry, and the implementation in Android Automotive is just the living proof in this regard.

On Android Automotive-powered cars, such as the Polestar 2 for example, Google Maps is capable of so much more than on a mobile phone, as it can also provide drivers with information on charging station, real-time mileage, and even calculate a route based on vehicle specifics and current battery charge.

So overall, Google Maps is evolving fast, and Google has recently announced a series of new features that provide the app with modern capabilities. And just like in the case of Android Automotive, it’s an update that’s supposed to help Google Maps align with the new trends in the car industry.

This time, Google Maps is getting a new setting to change how it determines the best route for a driver.

Google Maps on Android Automotive
Photo: Polestar

How routes are determined right now

At this point, Google Maps is configured to automatically suggest the fastest route to a destination, and as we’ve told you before, this particular setting has long been a controversial default behavior.

And it’s because in some cases, drivers just want to use a different route, and not even manually defining it works, as Google Maps runs a periodical re-routing, once again suggesting the fastest way to reach a destination.

To determine the fastest route, Google Maps looks into data like traffic trends, the maximum speed allowed for each road, the distance, and other factors that would have an impact on the time you’d need to reach a destination.

So theoretically, users define their destination in Google Maps, the system calculates the shortest route, looks into the slowest sectors and then adjusts the route accordingly.

Google Maps route suggestion
Photo: Google

How routes will be calculated starting this year

Google Maps is now changing the default setting, so instead of calculating the fastest route, it’ll now suggest the most fuel efficient one.

The change will be first implemented in the Android version of Google Maps but will then make its way to iPhones at a later time too.

So now when you provide a destination in Google Maps, the app doesn’t look only at the maximum speed and the travel distance, but also at road incline and traffic congestion. Using a complex algorithm, Google Maps will try to estimate the fuel efficiency for your route, so in the end, it’ll provide only the option with the lowest environmental footprint.

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. This is all part of the commitment we made last September to help one billion people who use our products take action to reduce their environmental footprint,” Google explains.

Fuel efficient route in Google Maps
Photo: Google
The good news is that the new system wouldn’t be mandatory, as you’d still be allowed to switch to the fastest route configuration from the settings screen. But keep in mind that by default, Google Maps will now suggest the most efficient route for all drivers on Android.

When it does, before starting the navigation you should see a message that looks like this:

Most fuel efficient route, the usual traffic. 8% lower CO2 emissions than the fastest route.

If you agree with the suggestion, you can just press the Start button to begin the navigation to the defined destination.
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About the author: Bogdan Popa
Bogdan Popa profile photo

Bogdan keeps an eye on how technology is taking over the car world. His long-term goals are buying an 18-wheeler because he needs more space for his kid’s toys, and convincing Google and Apple that Android Auto and CarPlay deserve at least as much attention as their phones.
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