Let's say that you think better while driving and, occassionally, like to take a road trip to clear your mind. Maybe even take in a few sights and bring home a spoon or other collector's item.
According to Google Maps, how far could you go?
Each of the challenges below involves finding points A and B that yield the longest driving route in Google Maps. Each challenge has its own parameters, but certain rules apply to each challenge.
Any solution to the challenge will surely have a shorter route (not available to the routing algorithm) as well as many more longer ones (duh—it's always easy to pessimize a route).
This topic has been previously discussed on xkcd forums.
As Google Maps updates the routing network, some of the old routes are no longer available, or significantly shorter. This maps challenge page is therefore invariably out of date.
Don't be surprised if the links to old routes show a significantly different distance, or point to a route that no longer exists.
The next milestone for a route with ferries is 32,000 km. Unless you have the money to build a road to Uelen, this new limit is a significant challenge. Interested individuals should start digging immediately.
The 20,000 km all-land route limit still stands. Africa's complex routing may provide a solution. Lack of roads in eastern Russia and blind spots in routing across China make it unlikely that a route across Europe/Asia will exceed this limit.
If you play with routes in Google Maps you'll quickly notice that some parts of the world do not appear to be connected to the smarts of the routing algorithm. For example, you cannot drive from Bejing to New Delhi. These holes in the driving fabric pose a challenge in finding long routes.
Google's subtle humour can be found everywhere, such as in step 9 of this Seattle to Hawaii route, which states "Kayak across the Pacific Ocean — 4,436 km". If you have endurance training, you might wish to continue kayaking to Tokyo, for another 6,243 km. For the purpose of this challenge, kayaking is not allowed.
No routes from North to South America exist because of this boggy marsh.
As new routes become available, long trips become shorter. For example, introduction of a route across Niger and Algeria cut the original land route with no ferry record from 18,260 km to a mere 15,576 km.
If you are interested in visualization and information, explore my global visualization of Google searches by language and find out where in the US people are searching in Chinese.
For the morbidly curious, of interest might be all the really stupid questions people ask Google.
Google Maps routes linked to from this page do not appear to work on iPhone's Safari browser (I have not tested iPad or iPod). A "driving direction not found" error appears. Rest assured, these routes do exist, and can be viewed on a browser on a PC or Mac.
Here's a fun 198 hour drive. Not the longest route, by far, but sure to be interesting.
Make sure you stop off in Turkey to go to the bathroom. Pick up a few aluminum centrifuge tubes from Iran, too, while you're at it.
The routes below are my answers to the challenge. Do you have a better (longer!) route? Let me know.
The longest land leg is the route between Haines Junction and Farmington along the Alaska Highway.
v3 route Haines Junction - Farmington 1,532 km (+32 km) (submitted by David Jackson)
v2 route Haines Junction - South Taylor 1,500 km (+25 km)
v1 route Haines Junction - Charlie Lake 1,475 km
The longest Google Maps A–B route that does not use ferries takes us from Pearly Beach in South Africa across (almost) literally all of Africa, to Sidi Bettache in Morocco.
v5 route Duyker Eiland, South Africa - Sidi Bettache, Morocco 15,594 km (+18 km) (Duyker Eiland submitted by David Jackson on xkcd).
google maps routing updated, v4 is now 15,576 km.
v4 route Pearly Beach, South Africa - Sidi Bettache, Morocco 18,260 km (+84 km)
v1 route Gibraltar - Magadan, Russia 15,394 km
The longest Google Maps A–B route that uses ferries. The ferry distance cannot be more than 25% of the entire trip.
This route has 560 legs (57km/leg) and takes you from Duyker Eiland on St Helena Bay across sprawling Africa (keeping a wide bearth from Angola and DR Congo), over the salty blue of the Mediterranean (Melilla/Almeria ferry) past a gulag town at the end of Russia's bowels, to end at the rim of the earth at Chimchememel'. The ferry trip is 179 km, which is about 0.5% of the trip.
There are many settlements further east, such as Uelen, but no routes to these exist.
This epic 31,766 km journey is even longer than some exotic cross-Pacific kayaking routes, such as the 30,618 km getaway from Panama to Tasmania, which requries 59 days and 18 hours..
v5 route Chimchememel' Russia - Duyker Eiland, South Africa 31,766 km (+626 km) (submitted by David Jackson on xkcd).
v4 route Chimchememel' Russia - Pearly Beach, South Africa 31,140 km (+15 km)
v2 route Perly Beach - Magadan 29,831 km (+66 km)
v1 route Bregasdorp - Magadan 29,765 km
The longest Google Maps A–B route with no more than 10 legs.
...I'm still working on this one.
Using Strunk's Elements of Style as an example of writing guidelines, I look how these can be translated to creating figures.
When we create figures, we must communicate and design. In my talk I discuss some of the rules that turn graphical improvisation into a structured and reproducible process.
Celebrate Pi Day (March 14th) with a funky modern posters. Transcend, don't repeat, yourself and watch the dots shimmer.