GPS Navigation Systems – How Reliable Are They?

Everybody has heard at least one horrific (and probably funny) story about people being led into tricky or dangerous situations after blindly following their GPS navigation system… in fact most people have got a horror story of their own. Some of these stories are actually too dangerous to be funny… well, to normal people anyway. I mean what’s funny about being led up the side of a mountain on a track which gets narrower and narrower before petering out completely with nothing but a sheer drop getting closer and closer and nowhere to turn round at all? Okay, don’t answer that question, it kind of depends who’s in the car I suppose.

Chevrolet introduces GoGoLink, an embedded smartphone application that delivers full-function navigation  including live traffic updates  through the  seven-inch, high-resolution touch screen of the vehicles MyLink infotainment system Wednesday, March 28, 2012 in New York, New York. GoGoLink is expected to be available in the fall for the Chevy Spark and Sonic vehicles. (Photo by John F. Martin for Chevrolet)
Chevrolet introduces GoGoLink, an embedded smartphone application that delivers full-function navigation including live traffic updates through the seven-inch, high-resolution touch screen of the vehicles MyLink infotainment system Wednesday, March 28, 2012 in New York, New York. GoGoLink is expected to be available in the fall for the Chevy Spark and Sonic vehicles. (Photo by John F. Martin for Chevrolet)

Anyway, this poses one enormous and very important question – can GPS navigation systems be trusted? Lots of modern motors have these gadgets built in (check out the choice at Nissan West Covina) but are they really reliable enough to get you from A to B safely? I mean, is it time we all threw away our maps completely, or should we leave them in the glove compartment just in case?
Well, the government insists that civilians have access to exactly the same accuracy and information which helps the military to find its way around, and the government can always be trusted to tell the truth, right? Apparently we can blindly follow out GPS navigation systems knowing that they are at least 95% accurate, but it’s the other 5% we should probably all be worrying about.
GPS navigational systems are entirely reliable in themselves but it is external forces which really throw a spanner into the works. The quality of your receiver, atmospheric effects and sky blockage can all inhibit the accuracy and reliability of this type of system. Another potential problem is nothing to do with the GPS system itself, it’s the data it is reading which is way out of date.
Okay, so we can all forgive a GPS system which doesn’t have the correct data to recognize a new road lay-out so sends us through the town instead of on the quickest route, but surely some of those mountains have been in position since long before the data was gathered for the first systems . . . I mean, they’ve been there for millions of years haven’t they?

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A Few Basic Facts about GPS
GPS receivers might seem extremely new and exciting but they are actually quite simple in real terms – the receiver calculates the exact position of a person, car, plane or boat by timing the continual flow of signals which are sent between the GPS satellites orbiting high above the earth and the receivers. These keep an eye on the time and position of the transmission message to calculate your exact position on the surface of the earth.
By their very nature you do need a clear passage for the signal to travel from the satellite to the receiver. If you stop to think about the amount of data which is installed in these gadgets it really will start to blow your mind. If you simply punch in the zip code or address of Downtown Nissan for example, the chances are that your GPS navigation system will take you straight to the door, and it won’t matter where in the World you started your journey.

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Wow, I don’t know about you but I find that pretty mind boggling. There’s no wonder that the GPS systems get it wrong occasionally is there? Don’t throw out your maps just yet and don’t follow the instructions blindly if you kind of know that you’re going the wrong way.