By now, we should all know that how you drive has a huge influence on fuel economy, but knowing exactly how to drive in certain circumstances to maximize fuel economy isn't always easy. We've looked at various technologies designed to make the task of traveling at the most fuel efficient speed, taking the most fuel-efficient - if not necessarily the shortest - route, and taking into consideration traffic conditions, that little bit easier. Now there's an app for mobile devices that does all these things. Called EcoSpeed, its creators say it could provide fuel savings of as much as 30 percent.
By inputting your current location and intended destination, EcoSpeed will plot the most fuel-efficient route from A to B. This won't necessarily be the shortest route, because the app takes into account factors such as the number of traffic stops, speed limits and local traffic conditions. Because stopping and starting burns more fuel, the app will give priority to routes that are likely provide a more continuous run - which may well result in a quicker journey in the end anyway.
Once you're on the road, the app will make use of your device's GPS to track your speed and give you real-time feedback on the optimal speed you should be traveling at - a slower takeoff from the traffic lights, or maintaining a higher constant speed along a freeway, for example.
EcoSpeed will also allow users to create a custom profile based on the details of your particular vehicle. You'll even be able to input the price of fuel in your area so the app can calculate how much each trip costs.
EcoSpeed is due to be available for free for iPhone and Android devices in March, with a Windows Phone version also in the works. There's also an EcoSpeed API to allow developers to integrate EcoSpeed functionality into a website or mobile app. Until the app's release, there's a demo here that will plot on optimal route for you - or attempt to anyway.
A quick test for a short trip around my neck of the woods returned the most direct route that would take me through three sets of traffic lights on busy roads. Local knowledge gleaned from years of driving has taught me a slight detour of not even 100 meters will see me encountering just one set of traffic lights on much less congested roads and get me to my destination much faster and with less starts and stops. But that's just one test. I'd be interested to hear in the comments how others fare using the demo.
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