Friday 13 December 2013

The Ongoing Evolution of the Sat Nav

Where once we had books and maps to help us find the way, the sat nav has made life not only much easier for people going about their everyday business on the roads, but also for logistics companies and other business that rely on the roads to deliver their wares.

Featured Image by Brian Snelson.
Since the advent of the sat nav, many companies and individuals have adopted the device as a way of finding new and established routes to their destination when driving. While many drivers still prefer to have at least one road map in their car in case of emergencies, many other drivers have chosen to ditch them altogether, in favour of the sat nav’s more up to date and reliable directions.

While it may seem like the sat nav is an overnight sensation, the story of it begins in 1957, when Soviet scientists launched the first satellite to orbit the earth, named Sputnik. Several years later, the Americans wanted to find a way to keep track of their nuclear submarines, and so, after many years of research, the TRANSIT system was launched in 1964, which allowed submarines to be tracked using a system of five different satellites. 

Through the years, many different incarnations of the TRANSIT system, and the rival system, TIMITATION were tried in the American military, specifically in the Air Force. By 1978, the Global Positioning Satellite/NAVSTAR was launched, and GPS, as it became known, was made available to civilians. Today, there are 25 satellites orbiting the earth.

Over 60 years later, the tale is ongoing, with civilian use of the device outnumbering military use. Now three quarters of a million units are sold internationally every year, and the humble sat nav has become a locomotive must-have. With each new generation of the device comes smaller hardware, more reliable software, the opportunity to download the latest information, maps and other essential news, which ensures that the user is as informed as possible. 

Though there has been some controversy over the reliability of sat navs, namely when providing information on whether roads are suitable for heavy goods vehicles, sat nav companies have been working in conjunction with the highway and mapping services in the last year or so to improve their logistical value. The latest models allow for users to update their device with new traffic and road information, as well as safety features such as cyclist alerts for lorry drivers.

Although there is still some way to go, the evolution of the sat nav is not a process that will ever end; it is absolutely vital to keep updating the technology that we use to find our way around, as the demands on our roads, particularly from businesses, are always on the increase.
how many days until january 7 2016 - march 25 2016

Hannah Jones

Author & Editor

From Skopje, Macedonia, Also works as Software Quality Assurance.