Apple map bugs take a turn for the worse

Apple’s notorious iOS6 maps have turned from amusingly inaccurate to downright dangerous according to Australian police. They say a location blunder has left some motorists stranded in a national park.

Stories of people blindly following mapping and GPS services and winding up in completely the wrong place have been commonplace, particularly when the technology took off.

In my own country, the UK, there have been amusing stories of football fans trying to visit the Stamford Bridge stadium that’s home to the Chelsea team but ending up several hundred miles away at the site of an 11th century battle. Even when the mistakes do cause genuine harm, it’s usually a mild affair such as a truck getting stuck in a narrow village street and causing a tailback.

Things are far more serious in the less forgiving Australian climate however. Police in the state of Victoria have warned that the iOS6 maps do not correctly identify the location of Mildura, a small and isolated city (shown by the purple pin above). Instead they have it around 40 miles away (red pin) in what’s actually the Murray-Sunset National Park.

That may sound like a fun location for an unexpected diversion, but local authorities describe it as “one of the few remaining semi-arid regions in the world where the environment is relatively untouched” as this image from Google Maps shows:

Naturally most people seem to have figured out quickly enough that coming off a main road onto a scrubland track is not the correct route to a city. For those that didn’t it’s a particularly dangerous set of circumstances if your car runs out of gas. Temperatures can reach 46C, there’s no water supply, and there’s no cellphone signal.

According to police, several motorists have been stranded over the past few weeks, some for as long as 24 hours. In some cases, motorists have resorted to walking long distances in the hope of finding a phone signal.

Police have contacted Apple and in the meantime issued the somewhat understated warning that ” Anyone travelling to Mildura or other locations within Victoria should rely on other forms of mapping until this matter is rectified.”

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