GPS Overview

An auto GPS is a navigation system via satellite that is designed to work with automobiles. It usually works with the help of a GPS device, which helps acquire the current position. It will then tell the user exactly where he is, after the GPS data is correlated with the map database.

With the help of the road database, the car unit is able to give the owner directions, depending on what their destination is. Because signal loss can occur when you enter tunnels or canyons, one can use an accelerometer, a gyroscope and drive train sensors for a better reliability of the signal.

gps 500Pioneer and Mitsubishi both say that they invented the auto GPS navigation, in the same year, 1990. The same year, Digital Equipment Co. filed for a patent, on a device which was named PageLink, which had maps that could be used in real time in a car.

The first auto navigation system that was based on GPS was invented by Magellan in 1995, in the United States. The same year, Oldsmobile introduced the GuideStar system, the first navigation system that used GPS, which was installed on a regular production car.

The first GPS based systems were not very accurate, since the signal provided for civilian use wasn’t very precise. Only in the year 2000 did the US started to provide a better signal for civilians and GPS technology really took off.

Even if a car didn’t come with a GPS device installed, it can still be retrofitted with one. GPS devices could be potentially life saving features for utility vehicles and ATV’s.  There are a number of options here, which are talked about below.

Portable GPS

A portable GPS is not integrated into the car permanently. It’s usually mounted on the dashboard of the car with the help of a simple bracket, taking its power from the cigarette lighter of the car. You don’t need a professional to install a portable GPS device and in most cases it can be taken with you and used as a handheld as well.

Some of the benefits of portable GPS units are the fact that they have a low cost, plus you can move around with them and place them in other cars. Unfortunately, this also means that they can be stolen by anyone if you leave them in the car while you’re away. Also, since these are portable, they don’t come with the extra sensors, compass or accelerometer, so they’re not as precise and they lose GPS signal more easily. Recent models that are more expensive might also come with an accelerometer.

Original GPS device

A lot of car manufacturers offer their own GPS device as an extra option for their vehicles. If you have a car that didn’t come with its own GPS, you can still buy an original model and install it. Sometimes, the installation might be extremely simple, like a regular plug and play, as long as the wiring exists in the car already. Other times, wiring will need to be installed, so you will need a professional to do the installation.

This option is preferable if you have the money, because you have the option of using an accelerometer and a gyrocompass, plus the speed sensors of the car, to get a better signal and position. It does cost a lot more, so you need to think if the price is worth the extra capabilities.



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