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Swedes envision greener navigation routing

Darren Murph

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We can all agree that having a navigation system at all helps the environment out, since you'll be headed right where you need to go (well, most of the time, anyway) rather than spinning your wheels trying to figure out what's what, but a group of Swedish researchers have envisioned a plan that could actually help drivers cut down on emissions without even requiring them to hop in a hybrid. Instead of sorting your routes by criteria like "shortest distance" or "near food," Eva Ericsson at the Lund Institute of Technology in Sweden would rather you follow the path of least resistance, which would channel through the most efficient pathway depending on traffic, time of day, and speed limit. The team has trialed various routes and estimates that its thrifty approach to navigating provides fuel savings of "near four percent," but commercializing the idea has some tall hurdles ahead. A spokesperson for NAVTEQ insinuated that re-mapping the current roadways based on these scenarios is practically infeasible, and the idea only becomes marginally plausible if drivers were to volunteer en masse to use their vehicle as a "probe" device that could track and record data as they drove, slowly covering larger areas. Of course, folks aren't apt to cruise around for hundreds of miles (and burn through multiple tanks of fuel) on a whim, but with the right marketing approach, it's possible to turn an entire fleet of vehicles into one giant guinea pig.

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