Plan a route

At times, you might want to plan the route your app provides to users. Using a route token from the Routes API (or Routes Preferred API) can help you specify two things for your planned route:

  • A polyline for the route

  • Your route objectives

For example, here are some examples of routing objectives you may have:

  • Minimize time to delivery: A business delivering food might want to minimize the time it takes to deliver the food.

  • Minimize travel time or fuel consumption: A logistics business might want to improve the efficiency of their drivers and reduce their fuel costs.

  • Minimize time to destination: A service dispatch operation might want to minimize the time it takes to get operators to a job request.

  • Lower costs and improve safety: A ride-sharing business might want to find a route that costs less for riders and avoids certain areas for safety reasons.

For more information about planning a route using a route token, see Request a route token.

Why use a route token for route objectives

With a route token from the Routes or Routes Preferred API, you have more control over the route provided:

  • Plan a route in advance for the Navigation SDK to use when possible.

  • Choose a the best route for the Navigation SDK to use. If you request route tokens when generating routes in the Routes API, you get a route token for each generated route. You can then choose the token for the route you want to use when you pass it to the Navigation SDK.

  • Estimate the price in advance, including estimations for ETA and distance. While the actual cost and time might vary, this estimation reduces the gap between expected and actual route cost.

  • Specify more advanced route objectives, such as eco routing or the shortest route.

How Routes API route tokens work

You can use the Routes API or Routes Preferred API to plan a route using route objectives. The Routes API returns a route token that you can pass to the Navigation SDK to guide how it routes your vehicle.

Here's what happens when you request and use a route token from the Routes API:

  1. The Routes API returns an encrypted route token that includes the route polyline and route objectives.

  2. You pass the route token to the Navigation SDK.

  3. The Navigation SDK retrieves the route, or if the route is not available due to changing conditions, it retrieves the best matching route.

  4. While driving the route, if traffic or other road conditions change, or if a vehicle deviates from the planned route, the modified routes continually attempt to match the best route based on the route objectives in the token.

This process maximizes how close the actual route is to your planned route.

Why a planned route may not be followed exactly

Think of your planned route and route objectives as guidelines to follow: they are not prescriptive. You might see a difference between your planned route and the route provided by guided navigation due to differences in the road conditions, starting location, or other parameters that have changed since you created the planned route. This difference might result in a mismatch between your planned and actual goals for distance and ETA, among other important trip qualities.

Plan a route using a route token

You can plan a route by creating a route token and then passing it to the Navigation SDK, as described in the following steps:

Step 1: Create a route token using the Routes or Routes Preferred API

  1. Request a route token with one of the following methods:

    • Routes API: computeRoutes. For more information about requesting a route token in the Routes API, see Compute a route and Request a route token.

    • Routes Preferred API: computeCustomRoutes. For more information about requesting a route token in the Routes Preferred API, see Plan a route.

  2. Set up your route request to meet the requirements for using a route token:

    • Set travel_mode to DRIVING
    • Set routing_preference to TRAFFIC_AWARE or TRAFFIC_AWARE_OPTIMAL
    • Do NOT use Via waypoints

Step 2: Pass the route token to the Navigation SDK

  1. Store the route token: In the Navigation SDK, set up a string to store the route token. For example:

    String routeToken = "route token returned by Routes API";

    Example of a returned route token:

    // Other fields
  2. Pass the route token to the Navigation SDK using the Navigator.setDestinations method, specifying the same destination waypoints that you used when creating the route token:

    setDestinations(List destinations, CustomRoutesOptions customRoutesOptions, DisplayOptions displayOptions);

    For example:

    CustomRoutesOptions customRoutesOptions =

The Navigator.setDestinations method returns the status of the request. If it finds a route from the vehicle's location to the given destination, it returnsRouteStatus.OK.

For more information about this method, see Navigator.setDestinations.


The following code example demonstrates how to specify a planned route using a route token.

    ArrayList <Waypoint> destinations = Lists.newArrayList();
    Waypoint waypoint1 =
          .setLatLng(10, 20)
    Waypoint waypoint2 =

    String routeToken = "route token returned by Routes API";

    CustomRoutesOptions customRoutesOptions =

    // Existing flow to get a Navigator.

    // Existing flow for requesting routes.
    ListenableResultFuture<RouteStatus> routeStatusFuture =
        navigator.setDestinations(destinations, customRoutesOptions);

    // Or with display options.
    DisplayOptions displayOptions = new DisplayOptions();

    ListenableResultFuture<RouteStatus> routeStatusFuture =
        navigator.setDestinations(destinations, customRoutesOptions, displayOptions);

How route tokens and the Navigation SDK interact

Here's how the route generated by the Navigation SDK and the planned route in the route token interact:

  • Overrides any previously-set destinations.

  • Uses the vehicle starting location.

  • Adjusts for road and traffic conditions. See Why a planned route might not be followed exactly.

  • Ignores the following routing-related options as unneeded:

    • avoidsHighways
    • avoidsTolls
    • avoidsFerries
    • licensePlateRestriction
  • Follows:

    • Waypoint-related options, such as the side-of-road preference.

    • Route objectives. If the Navigation SDK has to adjust the returned route, it uses the route objectives you specified when requesting the route token. For this reason, you should use the same waypoint-related options that you specified in Routes API.