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How Auto GPS Units Work

Jul 19, 2008
Auto GPS units are probably the coolest things to hit the car since the cup holder. They can direct you anywhere you need to go, navigate you around traffic, construction and unexpected road blocks, help you find a nail salon and do it all with style. The voices on auto GPS units are almost always British and female, which go a long way in helping you to feel a bit closer to your inner James Bond (even if you are in a 1992 Ford Taurus).

These days, auto GPS units are available as an option in just about every new car, keeping more and more people from getting lost each day. One of the coolest things about auto GPS units is that auto GPS unit users do not have to subscribe to an additional service, costing extra money, for the devices to work. Other car gadgets, like OnStar, require you to spend extra cash each month just to have the thing work, kind of like a cell phone. With auto GPS units, on the other hand, you just plug it in to make it work and get to your destination.

Still, despite the fact that auto GPS units are prevalent in America today, few people actually know how they actually work (even if most of them use GPS on a day to day basis). To clear up any confusion, here is a glimpse on how auto GPS units work:

Each auto GPS unit has a receiver that calculates the position of your car by timing the signals that are sent by the mass of GPS satellites way above the earth. Each satellite continually sends out messages containing information, which is then picked up by the receiver, which is then sent through the auto GPS unit for it to compute the exact position of the car, a calculation made using geometry and trigonometry.

This information is then mixed with the data that came with the auto GPS unit when you bought it, giving you a map with a you are here dot that moves along as you do. The result is the map on the screen of the auto GPS unit that tells you which intersection you are at, which direction you need to steer to get where you are going and how far away your destination is. All in all, auto GPS units are one of the most useful technological advancements in the last few years.
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