Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Don't trust Satnav

The plans for all cars to be tracked by satellite navigation devices have rightfully been shelved, mainly because, well let's not put too fine a point on it, you could do it better with a map. Satnavs are only as good as the software updates in their systems and seem not to be too well programmed with one way systems, how to discriminate between types of right of way. In my time on the streets I regularly had to direct drivers to their destination when their Satnav tried to send them the wrong way up one way streets, through pedestrianised areas, through bollards (Ouch) and on one risible occasion, trying to drive up a narrow footpath.

I recall being out delivering one day as a volunteer just over a year or so gone, and we had a brand new Satellite Navigation system in the van. Our line Manager had insisted we use it. Some kind of directive from regional head office I think. My mate who was driving had his own ideas, and took a different route. When he disobeyed the command 'turn right here', at the second prompt it sounded snappish, and on the third I swear this bloody thing, a machine, actually sounded hurt. My driver got us where we needed to be on time (and avoided heavy traffic to boot), but we had such a bloody good guffaw at the ever more petulant female voice that the Satnav unit got informally named after one of my buddy's more difficult ex-girlfriends. Eventually we just switched the damn thing off because the delivery drivers always knew their way around town far better than the Satnav unit.

Such incidents rarely make the news, but they do happen more often than you think. My own experience has been less anxiety causing, but it has taught me that technology may be wonderful; but it's no excuse for not exercising the lumpy reddish grey stuff between your ears.

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