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Apple Maps Flaw Sends Drivers Across Airport Runway 311

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the wrong-turn dept.
solareagle writes "The BBC reports that an Alaskan airport says it has had to place barricades across one of its taxiways after an Apple Maps flaw resulted in iPhone users driving across a runway. The airport said it had complained to the phone-maker through the local attorney general's office. 'We asked them to disable the map for Fairbanks until they could correct it, thinking it would be better to have nothing show up than to take the chance that one more person would do this,' Melissa Osborn, chief of operations at the airport, told the Alaska Dispatch newspaper. The airport said it had been told the problem would be fixed by Wednesday. However the BBC still experienced the issue when it tested the app, asking for directions to the site from a property to the east of the airport. By contrast the Google Maps app provided a different, longer route which takes drivers to the property's car park."
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Apple Maps Flaw Sends Drivers Across Airport Runway

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  • Credulousness (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Freshly Exhumed (105597) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @01:38PM (#44950327) Homepage

    Now we see why big corporations retain batteries of lawyers to write voluminous "I Agree" waivers.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @01:43PM (#44950405)

      Apple doesn't allow batteries of lawyers to be changed.

      • FTFS:

        The airport said it had been told the problem would be fixed by Wednesday. However the BBC still experienced the issue when it tested the app,

        umm, it's weds morning. give them to EOD sounds reasonable.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward
          In some parts of the world, "by Wednesday" means "before Wednesday". It's like the differences between "next/this/last weekend" in different regions of the US.
          • by iamhassi (659463) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @03:33PM (#44951787) Journal
            Airport's fault. No one should be able to drive their car right onto the runway, no matter what GPS or voice in their heads is telling them. Fire whoever runs this airport because they're a moron for not putting a fence up
            • by neonKow (1239288) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @03:45PM (#44951953) Journal

              Airport's fault. No one should be able to drive their car right onto the runway, no matter what GPS or voice in their heads is telling them. Fire whoever runs this airport because they're a moron for not putting a fence up

              I think it's pretty reasonable to think that a MILE of warning signs that you might get hit by a freaking plane is enough deterant.

              And before you keep going on about physical security, remember that stupid is always going to find a way.

              From TFA:

              "They had to enter the airport property via a motion-activated gate, and afterwards there are many signs, lights and painted markings, first warning that aircraft may share the road and then that drivers should not be there at all.

              "They needed to drive over a mile with all this before reaching the runway. But the drivers disregarded all that because they were following the directions given on their iPhones."

              These aren't drunk frat boys pulling some shenaigans in the middle of the night. These are fully competent, licensed drivers who turned off their own brains and replaced them with iPhones. This is NOT the airport's fault. It's called personal responsibility.

              • by BasilBrush (643681) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @03:54PM (#44952049)

                Right. So the TSA are x-raying and groping passengers, meanwhile the gates are open for anyone who wants to go joy-riding on the runway. Seems inconsistent.

                • by thegarbz (1787294)

                  No this is consistently inconsistent across the entire world. Here in Australia there is no TSA. Yet you can fly from a major city in a plane carrying 180 passengers and have to clear some hours worth of security checks to get to another city or country. In a country town you can fly in a plane carrying 180 passengers and have to clear a pool fence (no I'm not joking, it's a magnetic latched, child safe pool fence) to get to one of the same cities with the same number of people on board.

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by Grishnakh (216268)

                These are fully competent, licensed drivers who turned off their own brains and replaced them with iPhones. This is NOT the airport's fault. It's called personal responsibility.

                No, it's called "loyal Apple users".

              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                by Em Adespoton (792954)

                Airport's fault. No one should be able to drive their car right onto the runway, no matter what GPS or voice in their heads is telling them. Fire whoever runs this airport because they're a moron for not putting a fence up

                I think it's pretty reasonable to think that a MILE of warning signs that you might get hit by a freaking plane is enough deterant.

                And before you keep going on about physical security, remember that stupid is always going to find a way.

                From TFA:

                "They had to enter the airport property via a motion-activated gate, and afterwards there are many signs, lights and painted markings, first warning that aircraft may share the road and then that drivers should not be there at all.

                "They needed to drive over a mile with all this before reaching the runway. But the drivers disregarded all that because they were following the directions given on their iPhones."

                These aren't drunk frat boys pulling some shenaigans in the middle of the night. These are fully competent, licensed drivers who turned off their own brains and replaced them with iPhones. This is NOT the airport's fault. It's called personal responsibility.

                I do wonder what would happen if Apple Maps told everyone to jump off a bridge....

              • by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @07:02PM (#44954327) Journal

                This is part of a MUCH larger problem I call "the machine never lies" which i have run into MANY times and it goes like this...if common sense tells you one thing and a machine another? The machine never lies so you are incorrect. I have had to call a manager when a cash register said change for a hundred with a 9 dollar purchase was 11 dollars, common sense would tell you that its wrong but the girl simply refused to believe the machine COULD be wrong so hence the manager. I had to go through that again recently when a relative passed on, the moron at the desk refused to believe she didn't owe property taxes for this year...on a piece of property she had sold over a decade ago. Again the machine doesn't lie so no matter what it says they believe it.

                As more and more crap like built in mapping end up on every phone I have a feeling we'll see a lot of morons driving off of bridges, driving out in front of trains, as long as the machine tells them to? The little lemmings will march on...God who would have thought that Idiocracy would end up being a documentary?

              • by Chrisq (894406)

                These are fully competent, licensed drivers who turned off their own brains and replaced them with iPhones.

                In some cases this could be an upgrade

            • by AmiMoJo (196126) * <mojo@worldCHEETAH3.net minus cat> on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @04:24PM (#44952511) Homepage

              So what you are saying is that they built it wrong.

    • by goombah99 (560566) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @03:05PM (#44951461)

      In New Mexico, Google maps sent drivers 50 miles out of their way because it doesn't know that a road that was closed 2 years ago in a flood was re-opened shortly after that. Considering this is a main route to a National Monument, it's not just some podunk mistake. They finally fixed this last week.

      • by Skater (41976) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @03:58PM (#44952091) Homepage Journal
        That's a much safer error than the one in the article, though. But I've found errors in standalone GPS devices, too; our first one had our house - built in the 60s and never moved or renumbered - on the wrong side of the street. The only story here is that people blindly follow their GPS navigation and turn off their brain, which isn't exactly new either. In fact, people turning off their brain when they drive is a pretty old story, too. So, yeah, now I'm wondering why I clicked on this story.
        • At the risk of an indirect tautology, is it because you turn off your brain when reading slashdot?

      • by je ne sais quoi (987177) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @06:29PM (#44954029)
        A gps software from Microsoft once attempted to get my Dad to drive along what we think was a power line to the top of the tallest peak in Virginia. Pretty interesting stuff, not only was there no road there, it was far too steep for a vehicle anyway. Fortunately we were able to find a hiking trailhead through other means (reading signs instead of listening to a robot....maybe what these people should have done too.)
  • by engun (1234934) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @01:40PM (#44950341)
    Well, you did ask for the fastest route.
    • by gandhi_2 (1108023) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @01:42PM (#44950373) Homepage

      They were driving it wrong.

    • First time I used Apple Maps it wanted to make me cross a river, there was no bridge. It gets my home postcode wrong by about 10 miles. Seems to not know about central reservations in many places as well, wants you to go through fencing. Sticking with Waze for now.

      • by TheCarp (96830)

        I love waze but, it has definitely gotten me a few times too.

        Once, I was on my way to a friend's farm. I had heard there was another way to get there for "people who know the route", and assumed that Waze must have picked up on that and was taking me that way, so I followed it instead of taking my normal route.

        We got off the highway, and it turned down a dirt road. I was ok with that, been down dirt roads before....then...the road ended. I looked down at Waze and saw the route swung to the left, so I looked

      • by TWiTfan (2887093)

        I've had Google Navigate fuck up more than a few times too. I was on a military base one time and it took me out on what I can only guess was some sort of tank trail (not having a 4-wheel drive, I almost got stuck a few times). All this to get to a main road that it turned out actually *intersected* with the main road that I was on when Navigate decided to take me out on a long country drive through the swamp.

        • by mjwx (966435)

          I've had Google Navigate fuck up more than a few times too. I was on a military base one time and it took me out on what I can only guess was some sort of tank trail (not having a 4-wheel drive, I almost got stuck a few times). All this to get to a main road that it turned out actually *intersected* with the main road that I was on when Navigate decided to take me out on a long country drive through the swamp.

          Erm... Why would you take a dirt track?

          Seriously?

          What was going through your head when you thought leaving the sealed road was a good idea.

          I drive a Japanese sports car, which by definition is very low to the ground even in stock form. There's no way in hell I'd be leaving sealed roads unless I knew the path was perfectly smooth despite what the GPS said. Holes in my exhaust sound awesome but are a pain in the arse to fix.

          Google maps does not always provide the fastest or best route (in the city

    • Well, you did ask for the fastest route.

      "As a temporary fix, please keep your Apple AirPort device turned off while driving."

    • by dkleinsc (563838)

      Also, what kind of moron actually drives through an airport just because their eyePhone tells them to? Perhaps instead of setting up barricades, they should have prevented that kind of move with caltrops and/or land mines to remove a dangerously stupid person from the gene pool.

      • by geekoid (135745)

        There are a couple of problems with your post.

        First of all, it depends on how it looks from the drivers perspective. I have been to some airports where a wrong turn leads you between two building an dthen into the runway. There isn't a way to realize this when you are in the car.
        I haven't been to this particulate airport but it is obvious the runways wasn't secure against outside traffic.

        Secondly, you are too quick with the stupid comment. I know know geniuses(literally) that you wouldn't want behind the wh

        • Re:Steve jobs says: (Score:4, Informative)

          by amicusNYCL (1538833) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @02:58PM (#44951373)

          There are a couple of problems with your post.

          I have been to some airports where a wrong turn leads you between two building an dthen into the runway. There isn't a way to realize this when you are in the car.

          Can you name an airport that dumps you on the runway without a sign telling you that you're not supposed to be there? Regardless, that is not the case here. This is an international airport where apparently they had to drive for a mile down the taxiway first with signs indicating that they are in fact on the airport and that planes might share the road, followed by signs indicating that they should not be there at all. From TFA:

          "They had to enter the airport property via a motion-activated gate, and afterwards there are many signs, lights and painted markings, first warning that aircraft may share the road and then that drivers should not be there at all.

          "They needed to drive over a mile with all this before reaching the runway. But the drivers disregarded all that because they were following the directions given on their iPhones."

          I don't know of a way to describe those drivers other than "stupid". Maybe "completely oblivious" or "willfully ignorant", but that's not too different from "stupid". They saw or should have seen signs indicating that they are not supposed to be there, and they kept going because their iPhone told them to. I'd like to get a look at that access control gate to figure out what they went through to get on the airport property in the first place, so that I can further judge the intelligence of people who drive through an airport access control gate thinking that they are approaching the terminal. I've never been to a major airport where I had to stop and wait for a gate to open in order to get to the terminal.

          It looks like the gate in question is here [google.com]. A big yellow sign that says "Aircraft Operations Area", and someone thinks "wow, this is exactly where I'm supposed to be." The Yield To Aircraft sign is a nice touch too. I always see those when I'm going to the passenger terminal. So there is someone out there driving their car, looking at that airport entrance, and mistaking it with this [google.com]. Yeah, I'll go with "stupid".

        • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

          You can see it on Street View (sorry, can't see how to link directly in the new interface) and there is a sign, but it's quite small. If you were not paying attention you could easily miss it.

          Then again a friend of mine told me a story about his mother who several years ago typed "Travelodge" into her sat-nav. Travelodge is a chain of crappy hotels. Naturally she ended up at the London headquarters, not the branch down in Cornwall she wanted. Driving in completely the wrong direction and into the capital ci

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by mspohr (589790)

        What kind of moron?
        We are talking about Apple iPhone users here.
        From TFA:
        "Fairbanks Airport said the drivers involved in the 6 September and 20 September incidents had both been from out of town and had ignored signposts warning them that they should not be driving along the taxiway.
        "They must have been persistent," the airport's assistant manager Angie Spear told the BBC.
        "They had to enter the airport property via a motion-activated gate, and afterwards there are many signs, lights and painted markings, fi

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by CanHasDIY (1672858)

        Also, what kind of moron actually drives through an airport just because their eyePhone tells them to?

        The kind who thinks this sort of thing could never ever ever happen with an autonomous car.

      • by TheP4st (1164315)
        Pfft that's nothing compared to Sabine Moreau whose 90 mile trip became a 800 mile trip due to a combination of stupidity and GPS.

        We need to get something out of the way. Croatia is not Belgium. Neither is it in Belgium. Nor was it ever, in some strange historical time before America existed, Belgian in any way. This does not seem to have prevented a Belgian lady from trusting her GPS enough to end up in Zagreb, Croatia's capital, when she was actually trying to go 90 miles from her home in Hainault Erquelinnes to Brussels. Both, remarkably, are in Belgium. http://news.cnet.com/8301-17852_3-57563958-71/gps-sends-belgian-woman-to-croatia-810-miles-out-of-her-way/ [cnet.com]

        Stupidity is universal and not limited to users of any specific brand. But if you really want to have a cheap shot at iPhone users I'd recommend that you aim at the ones that fell for the waterproof iOS 7 [huffingtonpost.com] prank and sent their devices to an early demise as at least this one is brand specific (for now) in difference from GPS fuck ups caused by ignorant drivers since the first GPS

  • by guruevi (827432) <evi@smo k i n g c ube.be> on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @01:40PM (#44950345) Homepage

    How did the driver get it onto the airport taxiways? I live pretty close to an airport and the taxiways are all very barricaded, you can't just drive onto an airport without someone noticing.

    • by firex726 (1188453)

      Same for me in a big city, but I have been to small podunk fields where they were exposed, with a treeline as the only protection.

    • by P-niiice (1703362)
      It's Alaska. I bet their idea of a sufficient barracade differs a bit from the norm.
    • by Imagix (695350)
      Lets see.. you want to get on a plane, you have to remove your shoes, get body scanned, wait in the long lines for those privileges.... or just drive onto the runway. Hmm... does anybody in the TSA see be huge glaring problem here?
    • This is Fairbanks.

    • barricades had since been erected to block access to the final stretch of the taxiway and that they would not be removed until Apple had updated its directions.

      Not clear why they weren't there before.

      • by Obfuscant (592200)

        Not clear why they weren't there before.

        Because the same barricades that would stop a car would also stop airplanes who are supposed to be there, and sometimes need to use taxiways to get on and off of the runway and to the gate and back. Do'h.

      • by PenguSven (988769)
        Or why they would be removed after a GPS app is updated?
    • by rnturn (11092)

      Oh, yeah, they'll notice but how soon?

      I had a good friend and his brother wind up on a runway -- not in active use that day but still... -- at O'Hare back in the '70s. It didn't take very long before a cluster of airport vehicles with flashing lights stopped them before they got into real trouble. It turns out that there was an entrance to the airfield that was easily accessible via one of the roads that circled the airport. They were going to apply for a Summer job and didn't know where the heck they were

      • by Russ1642 (1087959)

        My dad used to take us to the end of the runway at Vancouver International. The planes would be very low and very loud going directly overhead. I thought it was awesome. I wonder how close you can get nowadays?

        • by ceoyoyo (59147)

          There's a city park in Calgary that's right in line with one of the runways. When I was learning to hang glide we used it to train because it has a nice hill that's clear of obstructions almost 360 degrees around. We had to be careful to be holding the gliders down when a plane went over because they were low enough that we would feel the wash.

          There were a bunch of no kite flying signs. Generally we'd get in a few runs before a woman (it was always a woman for some reason) with a cop in tow would show up

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @02:54PM (#44951323)

      I live in Fairbanks Alaska, and use the airport a few times per month. Even though it serves big planes (737s and 757s, and even 747 cargo planes sometimes), it also has a substantial general aviation area, a float plane pond (i.e., a lake), and a number of small commercial operations that are on the GA side of the airport. You can see this a little bit in the the article's coverage, or fire up your favorite mapping program to take a look.

      The commercial side of the airport is similar to anyplace else in the US: lots of fences, signs, and recordings saying you should not park in the red zone. The GA and small carrier side is more open. You can drive right up to, say, Wright Air's twin propeller aircraft and load up your dog food (or dogs). There are two pairs of runways and taxiways: one serves the commercial side, then there is a float pond in the middle, and then there is the side for GA and small in-state carriers.

      What Apple directions do is bring people in via the GA side (which is over a mile away from the commercial side, and involves a very different driving route). As the article says, it's utterly ridiculous that anyone would drive from the GA side, through the parking lots onto the GA tarmac, onto the GA taxiway (literally driving among parked aircraft), cross the GA runway, find one of the crossing points for the pond, cross the commercial runway, and get onto the commercial taxiway on the way to the commercial tarmac. If they did, they'd have no way to get to the commercial side parking lot or into the ticket counter or whatever, without finding their way around a hefty fence. Ridiculous, unless you're ignoring all the signage and indicators that you're really in the wrong place.

      The setup at FAI (aka PAFA) is not that unusual, even at fairly large airports. General aviation is very popular, and there are plenty of in-state commercial operations (especially in Alaska!) that do not require the same security procedures etc. as interstate or international. Getting to the general aviation area is usually just a matter of driving up. The situation at FAI, where you can get from the GA side to the commercial side, via runways, is typical at least at smaller regional airports. For the most part, large commercial aircraft stay on their runway, and smaller operators and private pilots stay on a different runway, taxiway, etc.

      The airport doesn't get a ton of traffic. Just a few score commercial flights per day, and a seasonally variable number of smaller operators and private pilots. There is a control tower, so it's reasonable to assume that any misplaced people driving their car on the runway will be spotted by the tower operator, if an aircraft is preparing to take off or land. This isn't to understate the potential danger. I can imagine someone in a rush to get their plane, speeding across the runway before anyone spots them, resulting in a collision or other mishap.

      I hope this helps. The pictures in the article are pretty good, but don't explain the two different sides of the airport.

      PS: If you are in Fairbanks, and need to take an interstate commercial flight, drive along Airport Way. Just follow the signs.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    They are using their roads incorrectly. Next time they should consult Apple before undertaking such projects so that the routes can be preapproved.

  • by DieByWire (744043) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @01:54PM (#44950569)
    Cool. Apple is now providing taxiing directions for pilots!
  • "Google Maps Flaw Sends Drivers Across Pacific Ocean" -- article circa 2009
  • by guytoronto (956941) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @02:01PM (#44950695)
    "The airport said it had complained to the phone-maker through the local attorney general's office."
    The airport couldn't contact Apple directly? Instead they need to involve other levels of bureaucracy and red tape?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by magsol (1406749)
      Have you tried to get technical assistance from Apple without visiting their Genius Bars? It's like they don't want you to speak directly with a human being. Though I have to admit, the thought of airport officials walking into the Genius Bar of an Apple Store is more than a little amusing.
  • by TheSkepticalOptimist (898384) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @02:14PM (#44950841)

    It's a user flaw.

    I never understood how someone could just blindly follow GPS directions and enter what is most likely very well marked security area, or even just use common sense and NOT drive onto a runway. Also mind boggling is the idea of driving into a river or lake.

  • Supposedly the FAA issued a NOTAM (Notice To AirMen) about this, but I haven't been able to find it. I wonder what it said, something like "watch for dumbasses crossing the runway"?

    • by Xolotl (675282)

      It's fairly boring. Here is the NOTAM:

      FAI FAIRBANKS INTL

      !FAI 09/092 FAI TWY FLOAT POND RD AT TWY B CLSD LGTD AND BARRICADED TIL 1309302355

      You can find it at Pilotweb [faa.gov], unfortunately I can't immediately see how to post a direct URL. You can see it matches the details in this article [alaskadispatch.com].

  • by Dcnjoe60 (682885) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @02:21PM (#44950927)

    Maybe the drivers in these cases should lose their license. Ignorance of the law is not a valid defense, so saying that my iPhone told me to drive across a runway should make no difference. If somebody is stupid enough to do that, they are too stupid to be allowed to drive. Maybe Apple should re-think their "Think Different" campaign and just tell people to "Think!"

  • or a hotel, or possibly a church...
  • by bellers (254327) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @03:02PM (#44951423) Homepage

    You don't want to get on the airport unless youve bought the hangar there, otherwise the cops will be all over you.

  • by neonv (803374) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @03:19PM (#44951621)

    Reporter: Why did you drive on the airport runway?

    Driver: My iPhone said it was the fastest path to the airport

    Reporter: If your phone said to drive off a cliff, would you?

    Driver: Well duh, it's the fastest way to the bottom of the cliff

  • by Sloppy (14984) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @07:45PM (#44954665) Homepage Journal

    Apple Maps lacks the capacity to send anyone anywhere. What happened is that it made a stupid recommendation, as computers are apt to do, and as most people know computers are apt to do. And a small fraction of stupid/negligent/careless/malicious people blindly followed the recommendation, apparently unable to read signs or use common sense about whether or not to drive on runways.

    If the airport people had been smart, then instead of putting up barriers (well, actually, maybe that's a good idea anyway, stupid maps or not) and "complaining to" Apple, they would have made fun of Apple and got an airport cop to profitably ticket all the stupid people who think it's ok to drive on airport runways.

    The more I think of it, what we have here, is a way to mechanically catch the very worst/stupidest/most_negligent_and_dangerous drivers on the road. Cities ought to be making deals with Apple and Google to route morons into places where they'll prove to courts that they are incompetent drivers, and then we can have them removed from traffic, or at least their points will reflect the higher risks they pose and maybe their insurance rates will become more in line with the risks they choose, so everyone else can pay a little less. Everyone wins. I'm not sure it would even be entrapment, because most jurors would realize that the driver was stupid and negligent even before the city paid for the joke directions.

    "R2D2, you know better than to trust a strange computer."

I've never been canoeing before, but I imagine there must be just a few simple heuristics you have to remember... Yes, don't fall out, and don't hit rocks.

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