Friday, August 8, 2008

Non Geocaching GPS Follies

The headline reads: A GPS device led a convoy of tourists astray, finally stranding them on the edge of a sheer cliff.

No, they weren't geocaching. Just trusting way too much on technology and not enough on trust in good common sense. I've had a couple of experiences with GPS (street navigation systems) that have left me scratching my head. I must ask, how can people be so stupid? Note: I do not use a automobile navigational system.

In my line of work, I often have to meet some of our illustrious sales reps at the client's office. Running a bit late one afternoon, I called the sales rep, who was already on site, and asked for directions.

Me: Which street do I turn on to get there?

Sales rep: *Silence* Um... Uh... I don't know.

Me: Well, what street did you take to get there?

Sales rep: *Silence* Um... Uh... I don't know.

Me: How did you get there?

Sales rep: I just followed my TomTom.

Me: But what street did you take to get there?

Sales rep: *Silence* Um... Uh... I don't know.

The sales rep was at the client's office. Had no clue where she was. Had no clue how she got there. Just followed the GPS arrow! (?)

On another occasion I chose to ride along with a different sales rep to a client's office. (The point of this story is not to cast dispersions on sales reps. Our office just had a sales contest and a bunch of them won new TomToms. I'll cast dispersions on our sales rep in another post.)

Anyway he's driving along, dutifully following the arrow - turning when the GPSr instructed him to. All was well until we came to the cloverleaf ramp On rampof interstate highways 394 and 494.

Click on the photo to enjoy our trip. That's 494, north and south. 394, is east and west.

We were traveling north on 494 and the device told him to take the westbound ramp to 394.

We loop around, and as soon as we reached the bottom of the ramp heading west, the British accented voice on the TomTom instructed him to take the ramp to southbound 494. Which he did. Now we were driving south - the same direction from which we had just come.

You guessed it.

The authoritative voice demanded the we take the ramp to eastbound 394. And he did - totally oblivious to what was happening.

You guessed right again.

Back on northbound 494 - and he had his turn signal on to exit to 394 west!

I'd had enough. I figured we'd run out of gas soon. I intervened, and we continued north to the next exit and safely arrived at the client's office on a nearby frontage road.

So the above news story is not as incredible as it seems. Blindly following that little arrow is not always the brightest thing to do. I think we call that bushwhacking?

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