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How Reliable Is a GPS?

picture of GPS cartoon

Technology has made some wonderful tools available to us. One that is amazing to me is the GPS (Global Positioning System). Although I take our GPS more for granted now, once in a while I will think, "How does it know how close I am to that corner?!" Recently I updated the software on our GPS. I can't remember the exact numbers, but it took us from something like version 1.5 to 3.7. Since then, we have had much better results ... even finding the house of a friend who lives on a farm in the sticks!

There's quite a wide range of prices and features in GPS's. Here's a funny cartoon I saw on xkcd.com (standard disclaimers apply) that pokes fun at cheap GPS's.

picture of cartoon about a cheap GPS

But GPS's still make their share of mistakes. Some of them, apparently, lead to the same wrong destinations frequently. Here are some pictures of signs that seem to prove that. Some are commercially made, others homemade.

picture of sign about GPS

picture of sign about GPS

picture of sign about GPS

picture of sign about GPS

picture of sign about GPS

I found this next picture online and LOL'd.

picture of recalculating GPS

Here's a cute picture I don't remember sharing. Our grandsons met this summer for the first time and both reacted with smiles.

picture of grandsons meeting

I look forward to your comments, especially those who have a love/hate relationship with a GPS.


"Deeds flow from identity — what we are." — Drew Conley

=^..^= =^..^=

Why do we drive on parkways and park on driveways?

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12 Comments on “How Reliable Is a GPS?”

  1. #1 Guillaume
    on Aug 10th, 2011 at 8:13 am

    I was told this story about Renault first installing GPSs in their cars: A director was driving the prototype to the launch meeting using the new GPS to get there, and was a couple hours late due to getting lost and turned around in a forest.

  2. #2 Vikki
    on Aug 10th, 2011 at 9:10 am

    I think that first sign written on a sheet of plywood I’ve seen before. Our kids were here in Greenville, SC a couple of years ago from WI during the time HWY 40 was closed due to the rock slide. They missed their turn in Asheville to bypass it and didn’t discover their error until shortly before they reached the closed part of the highway, so they relied on their trusty GPS. BAD DECISION!!! You see, up in the mountains, GPS’s seem to know about all the one lane, rutted, dirt logging trails and it lead they for about 4 hours through roads of this kind. During their adventure, they ran across this sign that looked just about identical to this one (it may have been the same sign, it sure looks like it). The first time they saw it, they thought it was funny. An hour and a half later they saw it again and it was no longer funny. They managed to find their way to a little town and finally back onto the highway, but in the process they did about $3,000 in damage to the under side of their van!

    Our GPS has also let us astray a few times as well. Trying to find Barnes and Noble while out of state it led us out in the middle of no where and announce “Arrived at Barnes and Noble”. Another time it had us turn left on a highway for over a mile to our destination. The actual place was about a mile in the other direction. It’s guided us through parking lots and tried to get us to cross dead end roads to streets half a block on the other side of the closure. However, all in all, we love it (but have learned to always have a printed map to back us up).

    Our old GPS recently died and we just got a new one and love it. It has lifetime maps, so we won’t have to pay to update them. It also tells us the speed limit and our speed and is much more accurate on where we are in relation to the upcoming intersection. It also has detailed maps of tricky interchanges on the highway so we know exactly what lane to be in.

  3. #3 Brian
    on Aug 10th, 2011 at 9:16 am

    Yep, when giving directions to my house, I have to add the disclaimer – don’t follow your GPS – it’ll take you about a half mile up the road past our house to another road not even our street.” Having a GPS myself, I have submitted my address for change, but it has never been changed to my knowledge.

  4. #4 Betty-Ann
    on Aug 10th, 2011 at 10:33 am

    We have had similar problems with our GPS, taking us down dead end dirt roads. and trying to take us through someone’s backyard. I have a good sense of direction, so I can usually find our way, but if we are out of town, it is more of a problem. The GPS has our house at the top of the hill about 10 houses up the street.

    The picture of the boys is precious. Thanks for sharing.

  5. #5 Michael
    on Aug 10th, 2011 at 10:41 am

    GPSs are another example of how we’re letting machinery think for us. We use calculators rather than do the math ourselves. We dial a person in our cell phones rather than type in the actual numbers to make a call. It’s still important to be able to read maps and understand how to get where you need to go.

    But, GPSs are very handy when you’re in an area that is unfamiliar to you and you can’t pull over and look at the map. I was leading a school trip to New Jersey a couple years ago and learned that you can rarely turn left in that state. You have to exit off to the right, loop around, then turn left. The GPS we had with us helped me exit right to turn left. Otherwise, I would have been royally frustrated.

  6. #6 Carrie
    on Aug 10th, 2011 at 4:01 pm

    We have a GPS that’s for hiking and can also be used for driving. In September when we leave our little town for a 5,000 mile trip we may try to use it. I love the picture of your grandsons!

  7. #7 Peter Bachmann
    on Aug 10th, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    These are some funny pictures!

    I don’t have a dedicated gps but my “smart” phone sure has led me astray. Recently I tried to visit friends who are located in a new subdivision and the maps (google? hello google?) are very much out of date or just plain wrong.

    Led to an interesting experience trying to turn around in a farmer’s field… which was where the map insisted that the address was. It was out by 20 blocks or so. The street view was not even close to accurate anymore given all the building around here.

    Have you seen some of the street view staged images that people have pulled off? those are quite humorous – thanks for the laugh!

  8. #8 Ray
    on Aug 11th, 2011 at 7:33 am

    A posting some time back on a manufacturing forum I frequent, a fellow said that he can tell which truckers use GPS as it directs them down a long dead end dirt road next to the RR tracks. A few minutes later, you’ll see an 18-wheeler backing out to the main road.

  9. #9 Dan
    on Aug 12th, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    So far our GPS has not led us astray. We do carry maps of the areas we travel in as a backup just in case. My wife does look at me with amusement when I make sarcastic remarks to ‘Liz Garmin’ when she is recalculating. lol

  10. #10 Lori
    on Aug 12th, 2011 at 2:22 pm

    Love this post! I can’t tell you how many times our GPS lead us astray. When we were moving from Georgia to Texas, our GPS wanted us to turn onto an old railroad track that was clearly out of use for many years. There were no other roads going West for 20 miles either way and our GPS was convinced we needed to go west on that railroad track.

    We finally had to stop and buy a map.

    Love technology.

  11. #11 Evelyn Matzko
    on Aug 12th, 2011 at 3:16 pm

    I love the picture of your Grandsons meeting each other! They used a good GPS made by Grandma & Grandpop. Thank You!

    A Great Grandma with eleven Great-Grandchildren

  12. #12 Don Johnson
    on Aug 13th, 2011 at 1:35 am

    A couple of years ago we were heading to G’ville for a graduation. My birthday was a long day on the road, but my wife wanted to take me to a nice steakhouse to celebrate… Our GPS, with outdated maps, kept leading us to boarded up steakhouses!

    After the third try, we ate in a truck stop! Good food, though!

    Don Johnson
    Jer 33.3