Route cancelled


Terry and I got a new GPS recently.

(Go ahead and ask… but you already know the answer… it is a Garmin.)

This new model comes with some voice recognition options, and while driving around a few weeks ago we decided to have a bit of fun and try it out. You might be able to guess how that went. (Hint… not well.)

At first the problems were definitely us. Especially since we had skipped a few generations since our last GPS purchase, and several modifications had been made to the standard operations.

For the most part, operations followed the idea of previous Garmin models we have used and owned. But the way it used autocomplete options, the progression of address searches, and other features took a bit of getting used to.

Then, as familiarity and comfort increased, things turned a bit and it was no longer operator error.

As we waded into the voice command, several things seemed off. As those that use such features probably understand, the first thing that needs to be done is getting the GPS to acknowledge that you are trying to operate it vocally. Then comes a series of navigation statements designed to filter things down a bit. And right about there is where all hell broke loose… sort of…

“Brooklyn Pickle”


“Disney World”




“Christmas Tree Shops”


“Hobby Lobby”

“A.C. Moore”

No… no… no…no… no and no

Just about any location we tried was met with a series of options that had absolutely nothing to do with the name we requested. As a more detailed example (and this is an example)…

Bob: “Brooklyn Pickle”

“Did you say Pier One Imports?”

Bob: “No”

“Please say the name of the location you are trying to find.”

Bob: “Brook” pause “lyn” pause “PICKle”

“Did you say Mai Lan Restaurant?”

Bob and Terry: “No!”

“Please say the name of the location you are trying to find.

(Terry: “Let me try”) (Slowly, carefully and clearly) “Brooklyn Pickle”

“Did you say Micro-Lan Business”

Bob: “You suck!”

(And we chuckled. Until…)

“Route cancelled”

She said that. The female GPS voice said “route cancelled” to me after being told it sucked.

It was one of the most perfectly timed moments I’ve ever been a part of involving any level artificial intelligence. And, perhaps surprisingly, it immediately renewed my faith in this GPS unit.

(I get it… you’re thinking that GPS units programmed like this really aren’t artificial intelligence. And that’s almost fair. Except… this one gave me the artificial middle finger when I was being a smartass. So… yeah.)

Since that time we’ve been using it with great success. As always, I love the Garmin line and would recommend it. (And I would recommend it knowing full well the options available on your phone and mine.) We’ve gotten a bit more experience with most of the offerings, and even have a bit of the voice recognition options sorted out. (We cheated, basically by adding several things to our saved places, which effectively forces the system to look over a much more limited listing for the sound alikes.)

But that route cancelled moment is still the highlight. If you can take part in our adventures with sass, sarcasm, and a sense of humor… well that’s perfect. And once again, Garmin surprises… and Garmin is for me.

If you have any comments or questions, please e-mail me at