The next time you search on Google for a dishwasher or dryer, you may see a new energy-efficient option on the screen. Look up driving directions on Google Maps, and a path will appear, with a tiny leaf, showing the most fuel-efficient route.
These features are part of a barrage of updates Alphabet Inc.’s Google introduced on Wednesday designed to steer people toward more environmentally friendly decisions. The overhauls include features for consumer searches on flights, hotels, finance, home appliances and electric vehicles. Google is also revamping search results for queries related to climate change, displaying select material from science agencies and news outlets rather than its standard links.
“Individually, these choices might feel small,” Sundar Pichai, Google’s chief executive officer, said during a virtual presentation. “But when you multiply them together across our products, it’s going to equal big transformations for the planet.”
The first is a new “fire” layer in the main map view, which will let you view the exact boundaries of a wildfire just as easily as you can look up the current traffic patterns. Google has done fire information before as part of the “crisis response” website, but with climate change making “Fire Season” a yearly occurrence in dry areas like Australia and the Western US, wildfires will now be a top-level Maps feature.
Google also announced it’s going to expand the Tree Canopy tool it launched in 2020. This Google Maps tool combines Google’s plethora of aerial imagery with computer vision AI to generate a map that shows tree cover in cities. Today’s announced expansion will increase the Tree Canopy imagery from 15 cities to 100 cities worldwide.
Next year, we’re helping 100+ cities globally understand their tree coverage. 🌳
Tree Canopy Insights, a tool from Google, uses AI and aerial imagery to find places at risk of rising temperatures so cities can protect residents. Learn more → https://t.co/4fXyTXkBNK #SearchOn pic.twitter.com/PSUXA9ntvB
— Google Maps (@googlemaps) September 29, 2021