Google on Wednesday showcased a range of ways it's using AI to improve Maps. For instance, it's using computer vision and other forms of AI to fuse together billions of Street View and aerial images -- creating a rich, "immersive view" of the world.
The new immersive view feature gives users a detailed, close-up look at places, including indoor locations like restaurants or event venues. With Google Maps information layered on top, a user can use the time slider to check out what an area looks like at different times of day and in various weather conditions. It can provide insight into how busy a place could be during certain times of the day or what nearby traffic looks like.
Immersive view will work on most phones and devices, Google said. It starts rolling out in Los Angeles, London, New York, San Francisco, and Tokyo later this year, with more cities coming after that.
Meanwhile, Google is adding eco-friendly routing options to Google Flights. Google users can already find eco-friendly routes for driving in Maps, giving them routes that may not necessarily be the shortest path from Point A to Point B but that should result in the least amount of carbon emissions. Now, people searching for flights will be able to find carbon estimates next to other information like price and schedule.
Eco-friendly routing was launched in Maps last year in the US and Canada, and people have already used it for traveling 86 billion miles. That has saved an estimated half a million metric tons of carbon emissions — the equivalent of taking 100,000 cars off the road. Now Google is expanding the feature to Europe and other places.
"These small decisions have a big impact at scale," Google CEO Sundar Pichai said during the Google I/O Keynote.
Lastly, Google announced it's making its Live View feature available to third-party app developers at no cost via a new ARCore Geospatial API.
Live View helps Maps users find their way around places, using AR to display arrows and directions. Companies already using the new API include the shared electric vehicle company Lime. It's piloting the API in London, Paris, Tel Aviv, Madrid, San Diego, and Bordeaux to help riders park their e-bikes and e-scooters responsibly and out of pedestrians' right of way.