Randomness (r_ness) wrote,
Randomness
r_ness

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Fun with driving directions sites.

Recently, I received this in email from my friend and South Bay restaurant informant, Kim:

>Go to http://mappoint.msn.com/DirectionsFind.aspx
>Choose Address In=Norway and City=haugesund for start
>Choose Address In=Norway and City=trondheim for finish

So, anyone who has used mapping sites knows that they all occasionally give directions that suck in some way, for some destinations, but this one is a bit extreme, given that the route is 2713.2 km (1685.9 miles) long, leaves Norway, crosses the North Sea, and comes back across the English Channel, transiting seven countries before returning to Norway.

This is probably a record for most roundabout directions for "fastest route". (I haven't tried asking it what it thinks is the "shortest route".)

Feel free to give it a try for the gory details, but note that this only works Haguesund to Trondheim. I'm told the reverse gives relatively reasonable results.

Because I'm the kind of guy who likes to visit mapping sites, I decided I'd test some of mappoint's competitors.


http://www.mapsonus.com doesn't appear to recognize anyplace outside the US, which among other things makes finding directions to Alaska from the lower 48 and back problematic.

http://www.maporama.com reports a completely reasonable route:

Transportation mode: By Car
>>  Fastest (time)
Total distance: 779.2 km
Travelling time: 13h 13
Average speed: 58 km/h

http://www.viamichelin.com shows a similar route, though the summary and estimated cost computations appear to be broken. (Perhaps they only work in France.) On the other hand, it knows that Haugesund and Trondheim are in Norway without your having to specify the country.

http://www.theaa.com/travelwatch/planner_main.jsp can't even find Haugesund or Trondheim. It looks like their route planner doesn't include Norway ("Oh, what the hell, Norway isn't even in the EU, no one goes there, why bother?") which I rather feel is a significant oversight, considering the page claims to cover "Continental Europe". What, do you lot at the Automobile Association think Norway's an island or something?

Worse, you don't find this out until you've already entered the data and you get the "I don't recognize that place, choose one of these places I think you mean" pull-down, some of which are clever, but none of which are in Norway.

http://www.mapquest.com doesn't cover Norway, either, but at least it's obvious when it doesn't come up in the Country pull-down.

http://rp.rac.co.uk/routeplanner does better:

Total distance: 495.2 miles (797 km )
Total estimated time: 12 hours and 35 min

although it does pop up this silly "We are calcuating your route..." window.

http://www.mappy.com/ returns possibly the best actual directions, including the names of each of the three tunnels and many of the towns along the route it gives.

Itinerary Express
Distance 715.9 km [+ 69.6 km]
On motorway 14.1 km
Duration (1) 10H00 [+ 01H31]
Petrol 63.80 ‚?¬ (58 l)
Reimbursement 0.0 ‚?¬
Vehicle Sedan car
(1) Apart from taking breaks, normal conditions (trafic and weather)
[Maritime or railway transport]

There are other sites, but even I've lost interest at this point.


The moral of the story seems to be to ask for directions locally, even when you're asking a website. Asking Americans how to get someplace in Europe seems a particularly fruitless exercise.

(To be fair, I wouldn't ask Europeans for directions in America, either.)
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