A road trip to Vermont on Friday, Jan. 12, landed three friends and their borrowed jeep in icy Lake Champlain, Vermont – not next to but inside the lake, at the bottom, after following directions from the renowned Israeli-designed app Waze, now owned by Google, the Burlington Free Press reported this week.
According to the Burlington Free Press, Waze directed the jeep’s driver to turn onto the boat launch, where it was dark and foggy, when they realized they had slid 100 feet into the lake. The driver and two passengers managed to climb out and slosh to safety.
Vermont resident Tara Guertin, who lent her Jeep to her three friends from Connecticut, said they were following directions from Waze, and that when she repeated the trip with her Waze, she was again led to the same frozen lake and instructed to move in.
A spokesperson for Google said the company was unable to explain the near-fatal error. “It’s impossible to comment here without seeing the user’s driving file and we haven’t received permission to do so. Generally speaking, Waze maps are updated with millions of edits to adapt to real-time road conditions daily, often making them the most accurate available.”
Waze (formerly FreeMap Israel) is GPS navigation software with GPS support that provides turn-by-turn navigation information and user-submitted travel times and route details, while downloading location-dependent information over a mobile telephone network. The app was developed by Waze Mobile, an Israeli company founded by Ehud Shabtai, Amir Shinar and Uri Levine, funded by two Israeli venture capital firms, Magma and Vertex, and an early-stage American venture capital firm Bluerun Ventures. Waze Mobile was acquired in 2013 by Google for a reported $1.5 billion.
On Wednesday, Ha’aretz reported that the residents of moshav Revaha in the south have had enough with Waze’s diverting vehicles to their main street to overcome traffic jams, and so, since Sunday of this week have closed the gates of their community to non-residents. The move may be illegal, but all the residents want is to stop the rush-hour traffic jams in their remote community.
Over the past two years, residents of Revaha, near Kiryat Gat, have experienced a sharp change in their way of life when Waze began to encourage drivers to enter their community to avoid the traffic jams at the nearby Plugot junction. according to the residents, what began as a drizzle quickly became a real flood of cars speeding down their local road.
Since Waze operates by analyzing the traffic moves of its clients, it stands to reason that once a sufficient number of vehicles meet a dead-end at the moshav’s gate, the app would stop sending them there.
Unless there’s a lake nearby.