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Some guy figured out a way to trick Google Maps to create virtual traffic jams

Great, now we can’t even believe Google Maps.

android phones in a wagon causing traffic jams on google maps
Image: Simon Weckert / YouTube

Well, it seems that you can hack Google Maps with a Radio Flyer. Well, once you load it full of smartphones running the Google Maps app at least. That’s what artist Simon Weckert did recently, wandering around the streets in Berlin, with a virtual traffic jam following him everywhere.

It’s an interesting trick, using a feature that usually benefits Google Maps users to cause virtual chaos.

It turns out you can fake a traffic jam on Google Maps using a cart full of smartphones

Did you use Google Maps to navigate to work this morning? See any red traffic jams and avoid them? Are you really sure they were caused by concentrated cars and not by one guy with a stack of smartphones? See, apparently, you can fool Google Maps into thinking a slow-moving traffic jam is happening, using multiple smartphones and a wagon to pull them along in. Nifty.

  • 99 smartphones running Google Maps were used to fake a traffic jam
  • That worked because the app uses user concentration to serve up traffic estimates

This could be a pretty disturbing hack if malicious users decide to take advantage. I mean, we’ve all seen those heist movies where the thieves hack their way into the traffic system to keep streets clear. It seems you don’t even need any coding skills to hack Google Maps, which could be used to divert emergency responders to longer routes or keep streets clear for racing on. Yikes.

What do you think? Surprised that something like this works or are you worried more people will mess with the system in the future? Let us know down below in the comments or carry the discussion over to our Twitter or Facebook.

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