Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 28 May 2016

Apple maps strand drivers in desert

Published 11/12/2012

An error in Apple's Maps service is stranding drivers in the middle of a desert-like region in Australia
An error in Apple's Maps service is stranding drivers in the middle of a desert-like region in Australia

Australian police are warning that Apple's much-maligned mapping application is stranding drivers headed to the southern city of Mildura in the middle of a remote state park.

Victoria state police said an error in Apple's Maps service places the city of Mildura about 44 miles away in the Murray Sunset National Park. The park is a desert-like 1,900 square mile region with scorching temperatures and virtually no mobile phone reception.

Police have been forced to rescue distressed drivers. Some were stranded for 24 hours with no food or water and walked long distances through tough terrain to access phone reception. The latest technical glitch came after Apple's mapping software placed Dublin airport on a farm three miles south of the city.

Chief executive Tim Cook apologised in September and said the map service "fell short" of Apple's standards.

Victoria state police said: "Police are extremely concerned as there is no water supply within the park and temperatures can reach as high as 46 degrees, making this a potentially life-threatening issue."

Earlier this year, Apple dropped Google Maps from its mobile operating systems in favour of its own mapping application, which has been criticised for bad directions, misplaced landmarks and missing towns.

In the past 30 days, six people have been stranded after turning into the park via a dirt road the Maps application recommends, Mildura police inspector Simon Clemence said. The track eventually opens up into rough desert terrain that is only accessible to four-wheel drives, and cars are getting stuck in the sand.

"If you're stuck out there in that and you haven't prepared, you've got nothing, you could be in a fair bit of trouble," Mr Clemence said.

Police received no response when they tried to contact Apple, he added. It appears the tech giant has tried to fix the problem; drivers coming from the southern city of Adelaide are now correctly directed by the Maps application to Mildura, Mr Clemence said, but drivers from Melbourne are still sent into the park.

"So 50% of the people are safe and 50% of the people aren't, so they sort of half-fixed it. It's a pretty serious problem. There's a fair amount of responsibility on Apple to get this fixed."

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