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Car Navigation For Humans

When In Doubt, Don't Drive About
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(+3, -1)
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Whether it's the driver less car, or the recent iPhone Maps app controversy, GPS has been top of mind.

A recent road trip in a rented car, with a third party GPS device, has finally solidified this idea in my head (it's been bouncing there for a long time).

For the love of God, why does the navigation system in any car ever have you take short detours? You've been in these situations -- already nervous, possibly late, speeding, and there's a last second turn off to switch highways -- only to switch back the next exit.

No common setting on these units -- freeways, etc -- can ever get rid of this problem. And even if you vaguely know the way, you have to be nervous because it wants you to reroute from the way you've gone before, and you can't really easily see what's coming ahead. And the worst is when you actually miss the exit -- then detour -- only to find out that the whole thing could have been avoided.

But there's a simple algorithm adjustment that fix this-- don't give me shortest path, or fastest path, or crowdsourced path.

Give me the path that minimizes changing the road I am already on --a "minimize turns" option, effectively.

This would save a lot of aggravation when using any navigation device for actual driving.

theircompetitor, Sep 28 2012


       You seriously have GPS units tell you to jump off then right back on a highway on a regular basis? I've never had that happen, except with a few very advanced models that do it specifically to avoid major traffic problems.   

       Most mapping software does favor a "simplest" approach to some extent, balancing it with a fastest path.
MechE, Sep 28 2012

       We observe your discomfiture with satisfaction and indeed glee. Long may you suffer.   

       GPS is not navigation. It is a navigational aid, nothing more. Those who let themselves become dependant on it deserve everything they get, which includes driving onto bridges that aren't there and drowning in cold, deep water.   

       Get a map. Learn how to read it. Use GPS for the last few kilometres if you need to, nothing more.   

       GPS merely encourages those who can't navigate to travel, which is not a good thing.
8th of 7, Sep 28 2012

       Somehow, I have difficulty imagining the Borg pulling out OS Landranger series maps.   

       "OK, 9th of 3 - if we go via Andromeda we can stop off at the services and still be there in time to hegemonize before teatime. Oh and, look!, there are Roman earthworks we could visit on the way."
MaxwellBuchanan, Sep 28 2012

       The problem is that GPS units that do this are the cheap bargain ones. This feature would only be found on expensive ones less likely to have problems in the first place. Anyway just use Google maps on Android for navigation since you can see your entire route in map view and you will notice if it is doing anything weird.
DIYMatt, Sep 28 2012

       This kind of talk makes me long for the days when people used the stars to find their way and knew that the sun rose in the east and set in the west. I own none of the devices of which you speak, yet I travel to places I've never been to and always find my way home. I like real maps. (although [DIY]'s idea sounds pretty good and I will eventually have to get a smartphone as my cell phone will soon be an antique!)
xandram, Sep 28 2012

       I've just added a 4th possibility as to what [8th] is doing on Earth.   

       [ ] can't you program in your own route on those things ?
FlyingToaster, Sep 28 2012

       I'm with [8th] on this one. GPS systems are to maps what Facebook is to interpersonal relations. Every winter, people coming to drop off their dogs at our kennel call us up complaining that their Garmin sent them to an empty dirt lot on the wrong side of the river. If they had just taken their eyes off of the screen, they would have seen our sign as they went speeding past.   

       Our place is easy to find. We are right on the main road that runs up the valley. Yet when I try to give people simple directions, I get "Oh, it's okay, I have GPS!"   

       A GPS navigation system is not an acceptable replacement for a brain.   

       Rant concluded. For now.
Alterother, Sep 28 2012

       What [Alt} said.
8th of 7, Sep 28 2012

       What [8th] said.
TomP, Sep 28 2012

       //Give me the path that minimizes changing the road I am already on --a "minimize turns" option, effectively.//   

       *Pulls out iPhone, opens Waze, taps Settings- >Navigation, checks to make sure I remembered correctly that “Minimize turns” option is there.* Yep, it is. Sooooo… baked?   

       //A GPS navigation system is not an acceptable replacement for a brain.//   

       The implication here being that, lacking GPS, most drivers would actually /use/ their brains.
ytk, Sep 28 2012

       //A GPS navigation system is not an acceptable replacement for a brain.// And yet, obviously, we can all run at 80mph.
MaxwellBuchanan, Sep 28 2012

       // next to the meat pie shop and across the road from the furry earmuffs shop... //   

       See, that's exactly what I'm talking about! I'm sitting here in rural Maine, adjacent to absolutely nothing that Apple deigns worthy of putting on a map, yet when I enter my address it gives me directions to Milton Keynes.
Alterother, Sep 29 2012

       Yes, but you're one of the Halfbakers, the minority of (presumed) human beings who spend half the time thinking and the other half complaining about those who don't. I think this is one of those rare issues upon which everyone here agrees. GPS and all of its derivative technology is a _tool_, not a solution.
Alterother, Sep 29 2012

       // when I enter my address it gives me directions to Milton Keynes //   

       You poor bastard … that's not a software error, it's pure malevolence, possibly an international conspiracy …   

       Have you upset any major sovereign governments recently? Think carefully, it's so easy to do without noticing …
8th of 7, Sep 29 2012

       Have you been there?   

       It is to virtually all of the rest of coastal England what the Jersey Shore is to the rest of the US East Coast, only in some unfathomably British way that has no distinct counterpart in American culture.
Alterother, Sep 29 2012

       // Have you been there ? //   

       The answer to that is clearly "No".   

       Try to envisage a sort of downmarket, half- scale version of Boca Raton, from which all the positive qualities have been meticulously removed, then add drizzle and populate it with grey, soulless morons whos idea of a good time is an afternoon queueing in traffic to get into the car park at Ikea.
8th of 7, Sep 29 2012

       You got off lightly. Basically, it's the difference between standing a bit to close to the barbeque for a few minutes, and roasting in the next to lowest pit of Hell for all Eternity.   

       // I have difficulty imagining the Borg pulling out OS Landranger series maps //   

       You can do it if you try. Mostly we work from the ICAO half-million sheets, but we even have the 1:2500 ones for targeting individual dwellings.   

       // a 4th possibility as to what [8th] is doing on Earth //   

       Green Shield Stamps ...
8th of 7, Sep 29 2012

       I live in Great Falls [21]   

       Sorry I missed you. And I apologize for the other denizens of this town. I wish I could tell you they're not usually like that but it would be a blatant lie. Stay away from this place.
Voice, Sep 30 2012

       //Sorry I missed you.// Yeah, hitting a moving target with a bottle is tricky.
MaxwellBuchanan, Sep 30 2012

       // It's just so easy to make jarheads look like idiots... //   

       Yes, but the consequences can be pretty severe.
Alterother, Oct 01 2012

       "ugly severe" might be a better description.   

       Oh, and Royal Marines are worse. U.S. Marines often lack a sense of irony, particulalry in stressful situations. However, R.M.'s do have a sense of humour, aalbeit very black, twisted and … unsophisticated? Earthy? Basic? Downright vicious ?   

       Anyway, what it means is that if you make fun of them, they will just laugh. They enjoy this as they get to laugh twice; once when you make fun of them, and then again when they exact retribution and revenge. It is as well to remember that their idea of what constitutes "funny" is somewhat different from normal perceptions, and may include, but not be limited to, severe beatings, dropping someone from a helicopter into a partially cleared minefield, iinflicting partial frostbite in 40c+ temperatures by skilled application of a CO2 fire extinguishers tto the victim's ears (try explaining THAT one to the M.O.) or ingenious pranks involving large insects, which we assure you that you do not wish to know about.
8th of 7, Oct 01 2012

       [21]'s statement brought to mind an event I witnessed in a bar in North Carolina: instilled with a considerable amount of liquid bravado, a foolhardy civilian backed by three cronies accused a Navy corpsman (a combat medic) of being a "pussy and a coward" because he had elected not to "fight like a real man." Before the corpsman could respond, a pair of Marines materialized out of nowhere and there followed a scene of unmitigated violence that I, with all of my creative prowess, would be hard-pressed to embellish upon. A third Marine was required to restrain the corpsman from entering the fight, on the grounds that his hands were more valuable to the Corps than any three grunts combined. I left shortly thereafter, as the situation appeared to be escalating and I had no desire to end up as collateral damage.   

       Say what you want about Marines (of any uniform), but be prepared for swift and brutal re-education if you say it to their faces.
Alterother, Oct 01 2012

       Hmm... you must have gotten the jump on them, to come out on top. Airmen are all pussies and cowards who don't fight like real men.
Alterother, Oct 01 2012

       Proportionately, combat medics win more than their share of medals, and understandably so. They are indeed highly valued and respected by their comrades so it's unsurprising that summary vengeance was dished out. Going out under fire to attend an injured man requires a very special kind of courage.   

       The kind of idiot that has a go at service personnel is the same kind of idiot who ignores the big sign that says "Do not remove your clothing and jump up and down on this Fire ant hill". They are an endangered species, for obvious reasons.
8th of 7, Oct 01 2012

       for the record, I have a regular TOMTOM which does this to me and I have had a regular Garmin do this to me in rental cars. I support [TheirCompetitor] and hate this problem. I also designed a shortest path algorithm once and my basic solution to this issue was to weight all changes as equal to 1 year of time then the fastest route could be the minimum time of travel + the number of changes. Then strip out all the years from the result and you have almost no changes to the existing code of the system. Lazy but functional.
PainOCommonSense, Oct 02 2012


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