Google has begun a pilot project to test the impact AI-optimized traffic lights can have on congestion and emissions, the company revealed Wednesday as part of a broader update on its efforts to fight climate change.
Google's researchers began testing ways to train AI on traffic congestion patterns, and adjust light phases accordingly, at four locations in Israel; these tests resulted in a reduction of 10% to 20% of fuel consumption and wait time at intersections that were part of the test. The company will begin testing the technology in Rio de Janeiro soon, and is in conversations with other cities around the globe as well.
Google revealed the tests as part of an update on a range of sustainability initiatives, which also included the following announcements:
- Google's hardware unit is launching a Nest Renew service for Nest thermostat owners that will help them shift energy usage to times when most of their local utility's electricity comes from renewable sources. A $10 Nest Renew Premium subscription will match carbon-based electricity consumption with renewable energy credits.
- Google Maps will now include eco-friendly routes; the new feature highlights shorter routes even when they take a little longer, and was first announced by Google earlier this year.
- The company is making it easier to search for climate-friendly appliances, vehicles, flights and hotels on Google, and will start to make information about the climate impact of personal investment portfolios available on Google Finance.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai painted these announcements as part of a broader mission to fight climate change, that also includes turning Google into a carbon-free company by 2030. "We think of this as a moonshot," he said. "We're up to the challenge."