This is more of a proof-of-concept at the moment, but it’s something to keep an eye on I believe.
Winner of the Microsoft Imagine Cup in Germany, and the Environmental Sustainability Award at the International Imagine Cup in Australia, Greenway will attempt to give you the most gas and time efficient automobile route from where you are to where your are going. Sounds like Waze, doesn’t it? Well, yes, kind of.
What Greenway does differently from Waze, so far, is it predicts the best route from the beginning, by taking data about the route (street lanes, speed limits, etc.) and calculating the number of cars the areas along the route can handle before bottlenecks occur. Then it gives you two routes: the shortest and the “greenway” – the most time and gas efficient one. If you choose the latter, you will be charged a (very) small fee of 5% of your gas savings (no more than $0.30 at the moment). If you do end up in a jam, Greenway will detect this (based on your extrapolated speed), and reroute you. (The app pings the Greenway servers about every 30 seconds.) If you don’t get to your destination in the promised amount of time, you don’t get charged.
In simulations, it has worked well, and a small number of people are testing real-life performance in Munich, Germany. (If you want to get in on this, go to their website and shoot them an email request!) The development team believes that they would need a 10% participation rate in any give city to be most effective. That means they’ll definitely be looking to expand to Android and iOS, and even intriguingly looking at making deals with taxi companies, to jump-start their information base.
Now, I have some questions about how the details would work. Gas consumption rates vary by model of car, regional topography, and driver’s personal habits (among other things). (For example on topography: I drive a Honda Civic Hybrid. There was recently a settlement in a California, USA, court case where people accused Honda of inflating the mpg of that model. I declined to join in on the settlement because I live in a Very Flat area and I really do get the advertised mpg, or better! I don’t “floor it” at a start, I increase my speed gradually, and I try to keep my speed constant, and in the most optimal gas mileage range, and I coast to stops instead of breaking at the last second. So in hot weather, when I’m running the compressor and using more gas for that, I average about 42mpg. In winter, when I don’t need the A/C, I get about 50mpg!) Gas prices are also incredibly varied by area, even in the same area. So in order to calculate my savings (and thus their fee), they’re going to need information on my specific vehicle, or at least my average mpg, and the average gas price for where I am on that trip. Which could change on long road trips, or even 2-hour ones. I’d like to know if these issues are considered. A distance savings for me would be less of a cost savings at my 42mpg than my dad’s F-150 truck’s 19mpg. So if they just used some “averaged” number, he’d probably be underpaying (hmm, well, maybe not in America, Land of the Gas Guzzler) and I’d almost certainly be overpaying.
The app itself will be free. There is no information at this time on availability. But it is certainly something to think about, and keep an eye on.