Date:April 2, 2020

By Loading 99 Phones On A Handcart, This Man Created A “Virtual Traffic Jam” On Google Maps

Google Maps might be a highly useful tool when it comes to finding the right directions, nearby restaurants & cafés, or even just checking for the traffic status. But as highly sophisticated as it might get, it still can be tricked. Just like Simon Weckert did it with 99 phones.

Using this hack of 99 phones carried in a handcart, Simon, a Berlin-based artist, tricked Google Maps into thinking that a completely empty street is bursting with traffic.

Imagine, a giant AI machine being tricked by a very simple hack! All Simon did was filling a wagon with 99 phones and in all of them opened the Google Maps app.

Ironically enough, he took the wagon around Berlin’s streets, including the one close to Google’s office in the city. And eventually, this very quiet street was shown to be busting in traffic in Google Maps, and probably changed the direction of many drivers.

Google Maps has a feature that traces traffic jams by watching the speed that phones are moving at. If the phones seem to move very slowly, this indicates that there might be busy traffic or an accident.

“99 smartphones are transported in a handcart to generate virtual traffic jam in Google Maps,” Simon wrote on Twitter. “Through this activity, it is possible to turn a green street red which has an impact in the physical world by navigating cars on another route!”

Simon hasn’t shared any further information except his blog post. But Google said it appreciated the hack and that it could inform future changes to the service. “Whether via car or cart or camel, we love seeing creative uses of Google Maps as it helps us make maps work better over time,” a spokesperson said, as The Independent reported.

Weckert posted a video of the experiment, which showed him traveling through Berlin with his handcart and the streets light up with the virtual traffic jam as he went.