Civilian access to the military’s global positioning system (GPS) satellites has been all kinds of wonderful for backwoods trekkers and getting around an unfamiliar town, but can it be smarter, and how could it reduce emissions?
First, GPS is actually useless without a up-to-date map and a magnetic compass. Modern GPS units include these functions in a single unit, which helps you get around. A list of POI (points of interest) and their addresses can help you find certain locations, such as the bank or an Indian restaurant. Today, as we have become more conscious of our emissions, it turns out that a GPS can be even smarter and help us to reduce our carbon footprint.
Pretty much all of us can agree that knowing how to get around can help to reduce emissions. After all, wandering aimlessly in some general direction inevitably leads to slowdowns, backtracking, and wasted fuel. In an electric vehicle, wandering uses up your range, and you could end up stuck, but that’s another story. Some smart GPS already can keep track of traffic patterns and current traffic conditions to keep you out of a traffic jam, and we know that idling in traffic is a big emissions-generator. Can GPS be even smarter?
Audi’s Driver Centric Urban Navigation could be a step in the right direction. Collaborating with researchers at The Center for Advanced Transportation Technology at the University of Southern California, University of California at Berkeley, and the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI), Audi’s Electronics Research Laboratory gave their system the ability to get you to your destination on time.
Imagine needing to get to an important meeting across town. On a good day, maybe it’s 40 minutes, but on a bad day, it could be 3 hours. How do you know when to leave, what route to take, and where you can park? Input the meeting address and time, give yourself a little leeway to make it to the meeting early, and let Audi do the rest. Using data from multiple sources, most of it real-time, the program lets you know when you should leave your house, keeps track of changing conditions along the way, rerouting your if necessary, and can even predict, with up to 97% accuracy, when a parking spot will open up close to your destination.
As more real-time data on traffic, weather, parking spots, electric vehicle charging stations, and even current events, personal transportation can be even more efficient, reducing frustration and emissions along the way.