99 smartphones create virtual traffic jam in Google Maps hack

Yolanda Curtis
February 3, 2020

The insane thing about it is that the street had no traffic at all, which uncovered a major loophole on Google Maps. "Without these maps, auto sharing systems, new taxi apps, bike rental systems and online transport agency services such as "Uber" would be unthinkable". We use it for directons to a point of interest or discovering where a point of interest is.

Even though people are aware of the routes, using Google Maps to check on-route traffic is a common practice.

One performance artist chose to take this knowledge to the test where he was able to manipulate traffic view conditions on maps using a bevy of smartphones. So don't expect many copycats.


Simon Weckert in what has been dubbed a new Google Maps experiment to prove technology is not always foolproof posted a video on YouTube showing how he managed to "hack" Google Maps to create virtual traffic jams on the streets of Berlin. Imagine a couple of motorcycles cutting through heavy traffic with hundreds of phones running Google Maps.

An artist named Simon Weckert loaded 99 smartphones on a wheelbarrow and circled around the streets of Berlin.

"99 second hand smartphones are transported in a handcart to generate virtual traffic jam in Google Maps".


With a high concentration of phones moving at a slow pace, Google Maps was fooled into thinking there's an actual traffic congestion on the road.

Weckert's handcart has 99 phones in it, all with Google Maps open, and walking them around a city can let him track in real-time the change from a green road to a red one, and in turn the behavioural change in the real world as cars and drivers consequently avoid that route. He carried out the experiment last summer, but published the results this week in honor of the nearing 15th birthday of Google Maps.


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