Green GPS (Image: University of Illinois)Enlarge Photo
Researchers at the University of Illinois wanted to change that. As a result, they've created a simple software interface to run on smartphones and laptops that allows you to pick the greenest route.
Known as 'Green GPS', it connects wirelessly to your car's GPS system. When synced with your car's onboard diagnostics system, it uploads data on engine parameters and fuel efficiency to calculate the route that's likely to burn the least fuel. The shortest and quickest routes aren't always the most efficient, as they occasionally include stop-start routes that harm your fuel consumption.
Though the device isn't available commercially just yet, it's proving effective in testing. Routes calculated by the Green GPS have saved 13 percent more fuel than the fastest route and 6 percent more than the shortest.
The National Science Foundation has granted funding to the University of Illinois to continue its research, and as a result over 200 vehicles will be equipped with Green GPS as part of a field trial.
The best bit? You'd likely see these savings from any vehicle, as you're improving the efficiency of the route itself rather than the vehicle. If every vehicle in the country was equipped with Green GPS, it could result in huge fuel savings amounting to millions of gallons per year.
Devices such as Green GPS allow you to drive the car you want to drive and still do your bit for reducing energy consumption - and that has to be a good thing.