How Does the Auto Navigation System Function?

How Does the Auto Navigation System Function?

Satellites Orbit Earth Non-Stop 24/7

High above our heads, a network of about 30 satellites continually orbit the earth. The US government initially put the system in place for military use. Today, it’s used by military and civilians alike to drive our auto navigation systems.

Somebody Is Always Watching

No matter where you are on the planet, at least four satellites can “see” you at any time. Each one continually receives and transmits data to and from units on Earth. A receiving unit might be a SatNav, mobile phone, or GPS.

The auto navigation system in your car continually sends and receives radio signals from those four satellites with eyes on you. Three of the radio waves are used to triangulate your location, and the fourth helps verify the accuracy of the data.

Once the auto navigation unit “knows” where you are, it uses software to place your image on a map. This image shows on the display that you see inside your car.

The Development of Auto Navigation

Porsche Cayenne Navigation System - Interior of Vehicle - Wikimedia Commons - EuroDrift
Porsche Cayenne Navigation System – Interior of Vehicle – Wikimedia Commons – EuroDrift

Before 2000, the government kept the civilian and military navigation systems separate. The data used by US forces could pinpoint a location within 22 meters. The civilian version was much less accurate. It was about five times less precise. This discrepancy kept the public from picking up on military data.

However, in 2000, the civilian population gained access to more accurate data by executive order. It was after that order that auto navigation began to take off.

What Does the Future Hold?

Satellite Navigation: HOW does it Work? | Headsqueeze – BBC Earth Lab – YouTube

Today, it’s possible for car navigation systems to determine your location within 13 meters. They can also send, receive, and process data so fast, that the process is virtually seamless. In fact, the process is becoming precise enough to allow the development of self-navigating cars.

Who knows where auto navigation will take us in the future?

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