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Automobile navigation devices are designed to get drivers from Point A to Point B as fast as possible. This is accomplished by directing drivers on routes with high speeds and infrequent stops (such as highways) or along roads that cover the smallest distance in total miles traveled. However, getting from start to finish as fast as possible does not necessarily mean as efficient as possible. A new regime in navigation software, dubbed eco-routing, is poised to get drivers from start to finish while maximizing gas mileage.

In conventional satellite navigation systems, travel time is calculated as a function of distance and average road speeds. However, interruptions in traffic flow resulting from congestion, accidents, and roadwork may greatly inhibit progress on affected routes, and sometimes the fastest or shortest route on screen may not reflect reality. Thanks to innovations in traffic sensors, cellular networks and navigation software, many routing systems now have the ability to plan routes for drivers that maximize fuel economy instead of simply speed or distance. Using real-time and historical traffic data, eco-routing software and navigation features (such as those found in the 2011 Ford Edge, 2012 Ford Focus and 2011 Lincoln MKX, TomTom’s X50 Series handheld and Garmin’s Nuvi GPS systems) direct drivers along the most efficient routes, maximizing fuel economy and reducing carbon emissions.

Cellular and satellite networks collect data concerning traffic flows, route interruptions, and average travel times of drivers observed in real-time. This data is combined with information concerning historical travel times and average road speeds, and the result is more efficient, cost-effective routing for drivers who take advantage of eco-routing systems and software. Eco-routing has additional applications for emergency services, traffic management systems, and smart city planning- building and retrofitting urban infrastructures with efficient, human and environmentally friendly design. Portland, Oregon is one of several U.S. cities that has made intelligent traffic and eco-routing investments in its transit infrastructure. Through the installation of traffic sensors, transit information technology, freight and public transport priority systems, the City of Portland has netted an estimated savings of over 17.7 million gallons of gasoline and 157,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide over the last six years. On top of and reducing emissions, eco-routing and smart-city systems also maintain the additional benefits of relieving congestion and as a result, driver stress.

There are many eco-routing products available today. Check out Earthgarage’s selection of fuel-saving GPS and dashboard devices in our store. Head over to our iPhone/Smartphone Apps page for additional cost-saving, efficient driving software for your mobile device.

Earthgarage – Greener Car. Fatter Wallet.