GPS and in-car navigation systems leading people astray is not a new phenomenon. Increased connectivity and crowdsourcing has improved the situation, but the latest example involves Google Maps stranding 100 people on a muddy dirt road in Colorado.
According to CNN and local station KMGH, the incident took place on Sunday and was exacerbated by its proximity to Denver International Airport. A road closure led Google Maps to suggest an alternate route that was “supposed to be half the time,” according to driver Connie Monsees.
However, this detour involved a dirt road that was “muddy and slick” due to wet weather earlier that weekend. Two deep ditches worsened the situation for 100 drivers that heeded the alternate instructions from Google Maps. Cars slid, with many not suited for this terrain and unable to turn back. This ultimately led other vehicles to become trapped.
The dirt road was private, but not marked as such in Google Maps, with the local news television station finding a downed “Road closed” sign. In a statement to _CNN_ , Google noted how its navigation system takes into account “the size of the road and the directness of the route.”
Another contributing factor that led to the stranded detour was Google Maps ultimately not being aware of the road’s condition following the rain. At the end of the day, Maps and other apps are only as good as the underlying data.