What does Route Not Available mean?

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Posted 3 years ago

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NOTE: This FAQ pertains to the 1st & 2nd generation Automatic adapters only.


If you see a “Route Not Available” image for a trip where there is usually a map, that means that we have all data for the trip to show except for the GPS waypoints. This rarely happens with the 2nd generation adapter but can happen more easily with the 1st generation adapter.

I don’t remember seeing these before. What’s changed?

It is not that more of your trips are failing to collect a route than before. Rather, we are showing you trips that previously would have not appeared.

Until mid-March 2015, Automatic would not display trips without routes back to users.  This was a stylistic decision made in the beginning to show you only trips for which we were sure your phone (and thus likely you) were present.  We learned over time that most trips where no route was collected were still in fact  driven by the same person and didn’t collect a route for one of the troubleshooting reasons below. So in an effort to provide each user a more complete record of their driving, we’ve made the decision to reveal such trips back with this new graphic explaining “Route Not Available”.

How can my trip not have GPS waypoints?

In the Gen 1 adapter, the GPS waypoints are collected solely by your phone, not the Automatic adapter. As such, your phone must have location services enabled and be connected to the adapter via Bluetooth while driving for the phone to know to collect and report GPS to Automatic. 

In the Gen 2 adapter, the GPS waypoints are collected by both the adapter and your phone. Your phone is not required for the route to be captured and stored on the adapter, but in the event the adapter doesn't get a GPS lock, we rely on the GPS from your phone to fill in those details.

Thus, “Route Not Available” tends to happen in one of the following ways:

  • phone was not with the car during the trip (Gen 1)
  • phone was there but the Bluetooth connection was not established (Gen 1)
  • phone location services were not available (Gen 1)
  • phone could not lock a GPS signal during the trip (Gen 1)
  • adapter could not lock a GPS signal during the trip & phone was also not connected (Gen 2)
Several factors can impact GPS lock times for any GPS product. The slowing factors most relevant to the experience are: signal interference from a car’s metal body, overcast or rainy skies, and urban canyons (tall buildings all around).  For cars with strong interference, GPS antenna/signal repeaters can be bought to affix to the windshield or window. 

How can you still have the other trip data?

The adapter is collecting all the data it can while the car is turned on.  It has onboard memory to store trip data even when no phone is present to collect it. All signals aside from GPS are provided by the engine directly or by the accelerometer in the adapter. This includes the distance the car travels, which is commonly thought to come from looking at GPS position but actually is reported by the engine based on wheel rotations.

“No Route” Trips going to the wrong account?

When no phone is connected during a trip, Automatic does not have a guarantee of which user was present during the drive. The best signal we have is the phone that next connects to the adapter. That Automatic account on that phone will upload all trips stored on the device since the last uploaded trip and be associated with those trips by our servers.  That account’s Automatic app will then show those No Route Trips, and no other Automatic account will see them.
What this means practically is that if you are the only Automatic user of the car, your app will now contain all trips of the vehicle including those driven by others who are not Automatic users: e.g. friends, valets, children. That’s a good thing in our eyes.  It’s your car, and you deserve to know what was done with it.

If you share the car regularly with someone else who is also an Automatic user, e.g. a spouse, our methodology may sometimes assign trips to one of you when in fact it belonged to the other. Concerning privacy, while this may not be ideal for all, we found the tradeoff to be worthwhile for the greater good of all users: this situation represents a very small portion of overall usage. Many of the users it would affect who we’ve spoken to do not feel that privacy is at much risk here, and in all cases the very sensitive route data would not be shown by definition.

We recognize and warn that this methodology will not be a perfect assignment of trips to driver in every case. But it is the best approximation we have for now, and are working to improve it to be more robust in the future.

In closing

We still highly recommend that you drive with your phone present and connected to the adapter. Why? In addition to ensuring that your driving data will be more complete, the adapter can only cache 8 hours worth of driving data from the past 90 days. Once more than 8 hours of driving have been stored on the adapter without connecting to the app on your phone, the adapter will stop capturing driving & trip data. If you drive more than 8 hours without connecting to the adapter, the newer trip data will be lost and will never appear in your trip timeline. Once you do connect, however, the 8 hours of stored data will start to download to your phone and new trips will be captured again. You can read more about "data dumping" by visiting this FAQ

Crash Alert will also not work with the Gen 1 or Gen 2 adapter if your phone isn’t present and connected to the adapter during a drive.