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Google Maps will soon use machine learning to avoid ‘hard-braking moments’

Google Maps is getting a bunch of new features that should make navigating a smoother experience. Moreover, Maps will soon offer more details about the busyness of an area, provide more detailed street maps and more.

First up, Google announced a Maps driving navigation feature that would try to avoid “hard braking moments.” Google explains that certain areas have higher amounts of hard braking — for example, a busy intersection where traffic can slow down suddenly. The company cited research from the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute noting that hard braking moments can indicate areas with a higher likelihood of accidents.

With that in mind, Google says Maps will soon utilize machine learning to reduce the number of hard-braking moments drivers may experience by sending them through alternate routes. Google explained that Maps already calculates multiple route options for drivers — in the future, Maps will automatically recommend a route with fewer chances of hard-braking if the estimated time of arrival (ETA) is the same or the difference is minimal.

Google is also bringing a feature to Maps that can plot a more fuel-efficient route.

Live View enhancements and more detailed street maps

Left: Google’s current maps. Right: More detailed maps.

Google also announced enhancements coming to Live View, Maps’ fancy augmented reality (AR) navigation feature. Users will be able to instantly access Live View from the Map. Further, it can now show helpful information like how busy shops are around you, recent reviews and photos. Live View can also display new street signs for complex intersections to make them easier to navigate. Finally, Live View can show where you are in relation to nearby places, such as work or home, or for those travelling in a new area, in relation to their hotel.

The new Live View features will roll out globally to Android and iOS in the coming months.

The company also highlighted its more detailed street maps, which show road widths to scale as well as sidewalks, crosswalks, trails and more. Detailed street maps first launched last August, and will expand to 50 more cities by the end of the year.

Busy areas and more relevant maps

Google Maps will soon expand its ‘busyness information’ to entire areas. Currently, Maps offers busyness details about specific locations, like restaurants, stores or transit stops. It’s super helpful information, especially during the pandemic as it lets people plan trips accordingly and avoid locations during busy times.

In the coming months, Maps on iOS and Android will be able to show the busyness for an entire area, such as a neighbourhood or a part of a town. For example, users could check Google Maps and see that a farmer’s market has made the area around their local park busier than normal, and plan a new route for their morning walk.

Maps will also start showing a tailored map experience that highlights relevant places based on factors like the time, location and whether you’re travelling. For example, someone who regularly opens Maps in the morning may see nearby coffee shops instead of spots to eat dinner. Someone who’s travelling on a weekend may see local landmarks and tourist attractions highlighted on the map instead.

The more relevant map details will also arrive on Android and iOS in the coming months.

Image credit: Google

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