Tuesday, 16 September 2008

GPS Woes

One of the 'things' I watch for in other vehicles, when out and about, is that little glowing box - usually hung from the windscreen, obscuring the drivers view - which shows the driver is relying on GPS navigation to get to their destination.

And, like most people, I've seen the news stories . . .

Blog - lorry stuck in lane for three days

News - washed away in a river

And various councils erecting warning signs advising drivers not to follow GPS directions.

I also heard a story of how a motorcyclist turned off a road and in to a ploughed field because "My GPS told me to".

Also, I like maps. If I'm heading off somewhere 'new' I'll look in the road atlas (I prefer the AtoZ range), and use on-line servies like Googlemaps, and Yell to see what's what & where, well before I set off - let alone arrive.

So it was with some concerns about whether I'd made a good decision, that I bought a Garmin a couple of weeks ago.

A quick test took us across town and back, without too many hiccups.

A longer test was to head off down the M-Way to Bath, and back.

So, findings and recommendations:

1. It doesn't know about mini-roundabouts, often 'seeing' them only as a junction, and if it's a junction where you down turn then follow the road ahead (as long as you know which one that is . . . ).

2. As with the junctions in '1', there will be occasions when the 'main' road passes a side-turning - but that's where the 'numbered' or 'named' road goes. "Recalculating . . . "

3. It does a good job of finding a recalculated route!

4. Ours reads out road names; we found that the 'male' voice was easier to understand than the 'female'. We tried 'Cantonese' and it's pre-loaded.

5. The speed camera database is loaded. That, with the visible speed display showed that our speedo is +2mph @ 30 and +4mph @ 70mph.

6. I didn't look at the map book before setting off to Bath - which meant I didn't have a 'pre-loaded picture' in my head of where we'd be going. I had to have total faith in the machine. See above.

7. While listening to the machine, it was easy to hear and forget. Make a conscious effort to hear and understand. I found it useful to repeat out loud the instructions given - particularly the more long-range ones, especially on multi-lane approaches to junctions.

8. It doesn't work well in built-up areas; used when walking around the city we often 'lost' the satellites.


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