Google has been able to offer basic directions to users of their map service for quite some time, just like what most other map services out there offer. All you do is enter in your starting and ending destinations and then Google calculates the fastest route. It’s always been a pretty quick process, but Google wanted to make it even faster and better than some of their competitors. A posting yesterday on the Google Blog outlines what they did to create a new route-finding system which is “hundreds of times faster: it can find and describe a cross-continental shortest path in well under a second. Shorter paths can be found proportionately faster.” Even when you have a really long route, it’s still super fast.
Besides the improvements in speed, they’ve also added a few additional features over the last few months with one of them being an ‘avoid highways’ option. Now when you get directions, there will be a box that you can check so that it will avoid highways when calculating and determining your route as shown below:
Given how much processing power it takes to provide these maps and directions so quickly, I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if Google had as many servers dedicated to Google Maps as they do for Search.
Source: Thanks for the tip Cory!