In a bid to further its green initiatives, Google has unveiled several new features to aid users in making environmentally conscious decisions, including assistance with making decisions about purchasing EVs.
“Responding to climate change calls for systemic, global action to transition to a sustainable future for everyone,” writes Kate Brandt, Google’s Chief Sustainability Officer. “But tackling a problem at the scale of climate change can seem intimidating.”
To help, the tech giant says it’s continuing to develop technology that can surface helpful information “so people, cities and organizations can make more sustainable choices,” Brandt says. In this iteration, Google has put its focus on transportation and energy, “which are the two sectors that contribute the most to global emissions.”
These new additions encompass electric vehicles (EVs), flood forecasting, and sustainable home energy solutions.
Those in the U.S. contemplating the purchase of an EV will now have an enhanced experience using Google Search. They be able to sift through and compare prices and battery ranges of different models, and they’ll also have the added advantage of uncovering federal government incentives for eligible vehicles. Additionally, Google is unveiling an improved Fuel Cost Calculator, designed to juxtapose the costs of EV charging with traditional gasoline refueling.
Google is also expanding its Flood Hub as part of the roll out; the tool was initially introduced in 2018. This service, renowned for offering real-time flood forecasts and graphical depictions, will extend its reach to cover over 800 riverside spots across the U.S. and Canada. Elaborating on its aspirations for the Flood Hub, Google mentioned in a statement, “With the help of AI, we hope to bring flood forecasting to every country and cover more types of floods, and we’ll continue to collaborate on this with our partners in the community, governments, academia, and organizations like the World Meteorological Organization.”
In an alliance with the U.S. Forest Service, Google aims to employ machine learning to refine the existing fire spread model. This collaboration seeks to “model more fire dynamics to help fire authorities train firefighters, plan effective fuel treatments and battle large-scale fires more safely and effectively.”
Furthermore, as part of Google’s commitment to facilitate a cleaner energy transition, the tech giant has enriched its Search feature to aid homeowners seeking sustainable heating and cooling alternatives. When users input queries related to “heat pumps” or “air conditioning”, they will now receive information about energy-efficient solutions and financial incentives. This feature is aligned with Google’s vision of empowering individuals with knowledge about eco-friendly home energy options.
It’s also introducing Project Green Light. The product uses AI to help city traffic engineers optimize traffic lights at intersections to improve traffic flow and reduce emissions. “With this information, cities can make cost-effective updates to existing infrastructure to reduce the number of stops cars make at red lights,” Brandt says. The new effort will roll out in 12 cities across four continents. Google says early numbers show a potential 30 percent reduction in stops and a ten percent reduction in emissions.
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