Google Research

Quantifying the sustainability impact of Google Maps: A case study of Salt Lake City

2021 (2021) (to appear)

Abstract

Google Maps uses current and historical traffic trends to provide routes to drivers. In this paper, we use microscopic traffic simulation to quantify the improvements to both travel time and CO2 emissions from Google Maps real-time navigation. A case study in Salt Lake City shows that Google Maps users are, on average, saving 1.7% of CO2 emissions and 6.5% travel time. If we restrict to the users for which Google Maps finds a different route than their original route, the average savings are 3.4% of CO2 emissions and 12.5% of travel time. These results are based on traffic conditions observed during the Covid-19 pandemic. As congestion gradually builds back up to pre-pandemic levels, it is expected to lead to even greater savings in emissions.

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