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Man Creates Virtual Traffic Jam on Google Maps by Dragging Small Cart with 99 Phones on Empty Street

German artist Simon Weckert recently went viral after posting a video on YouTube dragging a small cart with 99 smartphones on an empty street and tricking Google Maps into showing a traffic jam.

Basically, Weckert loaded 99 smartphones with Google Maps turned on onto a small wagon cart and then pulled that cart around various streets in Berlin, including outside the Google office building. He was thus reportedly able to fool Google’s GPS app into thinking that there was a high concentration of users on those streets. And because the phones were being carried in a slow-moving cart, the app was also tricked into thinking that it was detecting a traffic jam.

Photo: Simon Weckert/YouTube

In the video, you can see the streets Weckert is wheeling the 99 phones on go from green to red in Google Maps, which is how the app usually displays slow-moving traffic.

“By transporting the smartphones in the street I’m able to generate virtual traffic which will navigate cars on another route,” the German artist told VICE Motherboard. “Ironically that can generate a real traffic jam somewhere else in the city.”

 

To pull off this trick, Simon Weckert rented 99 Android smartphones and bough 99 SIM cards for them online. To actually create the virtual traffic jams, he would spend an hour or two in an area, walking back and forth on the street. It sounds so easy, but according to a Google senior software engineer, it’s entirely possible.

“I work for Google Maps and I know quite a bit about how this works. I believe this is possible,” the engineer said. Google is yet to make an official comment.

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