A Guide to How In-Car GPS Works Plus How You Can Update Your Maps

A Guide to How In-Car GPS Works Plus How You Can Update Your Maps

The GPS device has become one of the World’s most popular gadgets with millions of units being sold over the last ten years. There are two companies that lead the way in terms of sales, which are TomTom and Garmin who hold the lion’s share of the market. There are typically three different styles of GPS product that can be used in the car, there are the standalone devices (for example Garmin), built-in factory installed models, and now even Smartphone navigation. But how does GPS work to get you routed from A to B when driving? If you have ever wondered then read our guide to GPS and satellite navigation below.

Global Positioning System (GPS) formed by 24 Satellites

In total there are twenty four satellites orbiting the Earth which form the basis for the Global Positioning System – which is where the GPS term comes from. These were put in place by the US military as a defense project, but were then made commercially available at the beginning of the 1980s so companies could start to use the technology themselves.

Satellites Send Signal Transmissions to Earth’s Surface

The satellites all transmit GPS signals to the Earth’s surface, and each signal contains information on the satellite’s position and ID – each satellite does this at the same time which means the GPS in your car will be able to receive signals as long as it has a clear sight to the sky and is not blocked, for example by a tunnel or underground car park.

Trilateration for Accurate Positioning

When your GPS receives signals there is a delay in time from being sent to received, and because of this delay the product can calculate the distance back to the satellite. It will take signals from at least three satellites which then let the GPS determine your position due to a method called trilateration. This allows for accurate positioning and almost determines the pin-point location of your car.visit the website:http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/driver-who-mowed-down-traffic-5934703

Showing the Car’s Location on the GPS Digital Map

But how does the product then route you along your journey? Well, it’s quite simple after this point, because each GPS device has digital maps stored onto it. Because of this mapping software the device can to overlay your vehicle’s position onto the map and then give you the directions that you need. Because the GPS device is constantly having signals sent to it from the satellites it can display the location of your car and you will see the visual effect of the vehicle moving along the digital map on the screen.

Updating the Maps on Your GPS Device

As you can see from the guide to GPS above, the device that you own will only ever be as good as the actual maps that are stored on it. Contrary to popular belief, the maps are not beamed down from the satellites – only the car’s position and location. Because of this, the maps on a GPS will need to be updated frequently to accommodate for road changes and new highways being built.

How to Update Factory-Installed Devices

Cars which come with a GPS pre-installed at the factory need to be updated via new mapping software discs, for example Nissan GPS products will need to be updated using a Nissan Navigation DVD. (Additional manufacturers and options can be seen on the independent www.GPSNavigationDVD.net which lists all car-types). The main supplier of maps to car manufacturers is a company called Navteq so if you are in any doubt how to update your GPS make sure you check online for Navteq update discs.read more here!

How to Update Standalone GPS Devices

If you instead own a standalone product from Garmin or TomTom then updating the maps is easier as you can download new software direct from the manufacturer. Both brands offer schemes where you can pay for lifetime maps or opt for a one-off upgrade, and some newer models even come with the option of having lifetime maps bundled with the purchase so you can continually download updates over the time you own the GPS device.

Car GPS Works

How to Update Smartphone GPS Apps

For those people who use a Smartphone device for navigation then you will need to visit the iTunes stores to purchase app upgrades, or your relevant Android online store. Please be aware though, Smartphone navigation does not offer true turn-by-turn navigation and they are not as reliable as factory-installed or standalone products and should be seen as a cheap alternative rather than a premium product.

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