The couple was relying on directions provided by the Google Maps iPhone app, but the small, unmarked road their robotic-voiced navigator ordered them to take seemed to be decidedly off-course.
Confused, if still confident in the accuracy of the app's global positioning system, they obligingly left the highway. As it turned out, they weren't being directed to a hidden shortcut to shave time off their journey, says Dr. Pridemore, who received her doctorate in mathematics earlier this month.
Apparently, Google Maps decided they needed a pick-me-up.
"We looked up and saw a beautiful baby deer right in front of us," she recalls in an email. "The GPS lady then proceeded to direct us back to the main road and on with our journey. It was pretty weird. I don't remember selecting the wildlife GPS package."
Pridemore says she and her husband consider the incident a fluke. And, like many drivers who have experienced GPS misdirection, they continue to rely on turn-by-turn navigation and have forgiven the navigator for "her" slip-up.
"She had never really led us astray prior to the deer incident," Pridemore says. "Most of the time we still trust her. Honestly, after the deer incident, I feel like she may be trying to show us things when her directions aren't what they should be."
For all their useful features -- frequently updated maps, traffic notifications, directions to the nearest gas station, hibachi grill or Baby Gap outlet -- GPS systems can lead to trouble if relied upon exclusively.
Earlier this year, researchers from the
Yet technology-assisted navigation has become an integral part of life, especially since the advent of GPS-equipped smart phone age.
When Apple released version 6.0 of its iOS mobile operating system last September, the update included a new navigational app that no longer was powered by competitor
Police in Mildura,
The app's numerous flaws were a black eye for the company, drawing criticism from outlets such as CNN, Business Insider and Gizmodo, which placed Apple Maps at the top of its list of "The 10 Biggest Tech Screw-Ups of 2012." Within weeks, Apple CEO
Despite the minor GPS snafus that cause more irritation than actual danger, many people continue to rely on turn-by-turn navigation to find their way around. In the Pridemores' case, they were merely sidetracked by squirrely GPS, but other locals responding to a
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