What Is GPS Tracking?

How GPS Works In Car

GPS Technology

Publish Date: June 16, 2023

Last Update: May 20, 2024

How GPS Works in Car – A Deep Dive Into Vehicle Tracking Systems

You step into your car, ready for a journey. You switch on the GPS navigation through your console. Yet, do you ever wonder how it functions? If you manage a fleet or logistics-based company, understanding the workings of GPS can provide you with a distinct advantage. But how does it do that? This intricate technology, known as GPS, has revolutionized our travel, business, and logistics methods. In this article, we will explore, ‘How GPS Works in Car,’ unraveling technical aspects and practical applications, providing valuable insights for your business.

What Is GPS?

Can GPS Be Wrong

The Global Positioning System (GPS) is a tracking system that allows us to pinpoint where we are on Earth, where we’re going, and how far we are from our destination. How it works is as simple as our traditional maps but provides real-time information.

The GPS satellites communicate their position with other satellites orbiting, in a process called trilateration. They measure their relative distance to GPS vehicle trackers, which are shared between all three satellites. The measure was originally part of an initiative by the Department of Defense for military applications.

Once the location of the point, in this case, the vehicle, is determined, all three satellites deliver the data to the receiver on the vehicle. The GPS processes the information and extrapolates the satellites’ position relative to the system’s map.

Though GPS satellite navigation is up in space, they are not above the geostationary orbit. They are constantly moving to provide information to everyone around the world. There are different orbits, but typically there are 24 active satellites at any given time.

When new GPS satellites are launched, they travel at the same orbital velocity as the other satellites. Several satellites will have already moved out of their orbital velocity as each new satellite is launched.

How Does GPS Work In Cars – 10 Steps

GPS Receivers
Photo Courtesy: https://www.trackingsystemdirect.com/

Step 1: Power On and Connect

When you step into your car and turn the ignition on, the first step of GPS activation occurs. Whether it’s an electric car or a more traditional model, your vehicle’s in-built GPS unit springs to life. This unit could be integrated into your dashboard, steering wheel controls, or even a separate GPS navigator device. The moment your vehicle’s engine starts, the GPS device gets powered, signifying its readiness to receive the crucial information that it needs to guide you through your travels. This step is fundamental, paving the way for the more intricate aspects of GPS technology.

Step 2: Satellites Begin Communication

Once your GPS unit is active, it immediately starts seeking contact with multiple satellites that orbit Earth. These satellites are part of a larger network, broadcasting continuous microwave signals down to Earth. The GPS receiver in your vehicle is designed to catch these signals. This communication between your car’s GPS device and the orbiting satellites is the first step in determining your exact location. The signals carry necessary data that allows the GPS to comprehend where your vehicle is situated.

Step 3: Trilateration

Once the GPS receiver catches these signals, it utilizes a process called trilateration to work out your car’s precise position. In essence, the GPS unit measures the time taken for signals from different satellites to reach your device. By taking into account the speed at which the signal travels and the time it takes to reach the receiver, the GPS can calculate the distance from each satellite. Utilizing the distances to multiple satellites, it triangulates the exact position of your vehicle.

Step 4: GPS Maps and Location

After the trilateration process, the GPS unit has now obtained the specific coordinates of your location. It then superimposes these coordinates onto the inbuilt GPS maps within its system. You can now visualize your car’s exact location on your GPS navigation system’s screen. At this point, your vehicle’s location is no longer a mystery, and the stage is set for you to plot the course to your destination.

Step 5: Steering Wheel Controls

Once your location has been established, you can input your intended destination into the GPS system. This could be done using the steering wheel controls or through the touchscreen, depending on your car’s setup. Once the destination is provided, the GPS system jumps into action, calculating the most optimal route based on the data available in its maps. It takes into consideration several factors such as travel time, traffic conditions, and roadworks to provide you with the best possible route.

Step 6: Real-time Tracking

With the destination set and your vehicle on the move, the GPS unit continues its constant communication with the satellites. This never-ending exchange of radio signals facilitates real-time tracking of your vehicle’s movement. The GPS system updates your vehicle’s exact position on its map in real time and offers turn-by-turn directions. This precise guidance helps you navigate the roads safely and efficiently.

Step 7: Cellular Network Integration

To access more advanced features like live traffic updates or system upgrades, your GPS device may integrate with a cellular network. This network extends the functionality of the GPS systems by providing real-time updates on traffic conditions, weather alerts, and even system upgrades to keep your GPS unit up-to-date. This enhances your navigation’s efficiency and safety, making for a more comfortable and reliable travel experience.

Step 8: Vehicle Tracking

If your car is fitted with additional GPS tracking or fleet tracking technology, more detailed data regarding your vehicle’s movement is captured. This data includes details about travel time, idle time, and habits such as speeding or idling unnecessarily. Such tracking solutions are invaluable for businesses that use them for fleet management. With breadcrumb trails of this data, they can monitor and manage vehicle use more effectively.

Step 9: Advanced Features

Certain advanced GPS systems offer integration with other devices such as dash cams or additional tracking technology. The information collected from these features can be used for several purposes, such as assessing driver behavior or providing valuable evidence in the case of an accident. These capabilities make the GPS system an invaluable asset for modern vehicles, taking them beyond just navigational tools.

Step 10: Updates and Enhancements

Periodically, system upgrades are made available to keep your GPS device current. This ensures that your maps stay up-to-date with any changes or developments. It also provides new features or improvements to existing ones. Some GPS units may even offer customized alerts for particular actions, such as speeding or exiting a designated geographical area. These updates and enhancements help keep your GPS system reliable and effective.

Understanding ‘How GPS Works in Car’ can help you fully leverage the benefits of this technology. Whether it’s for efficient navigation, safety, or tracking, a thorough comprehension of the GPS process can significantly enhance your driving experience.

Related Article: 14 Best GPS Systems For Tracking Vehicles

Final Thoughts

GPS is a technology that’s constantly evolving. It provides many useful services, from tracking shipments to finding the most efficient routes. Tracking devices in vehicles give businesses the information to make more efficient deliveries with less downtime.

GPS technology allows businesses to know exactly where their vehicles are, how long they take, and where they’re going. In today’s fast-moving world, GPS technology is helping companies stay competitive, offering them an edge over businesses without this technology. It may cost more than traditional maps, but it is an investment that will help businesses flourish.

GPS Satellite Tracking

Photo Courtesy https://www.linkedin.com/company/gps-tracker-shop/

Frequently Asked Questions

How do GPS trackers in cars detect speeding and idling?

Yes, GPS trackers in cars are indeed capable of detecting speeding and idling. The advanced tracking solutions employed in these devices collect data continuously as your vehicle moves. With the constant exchange of microwave signals between the GPS tracker and satellites, it can accurately calculate your vehicle’s speed and idle time. If your vehicle’s speed surpasses certain thresholds, or if it idles for longer than usual periods, the GPS unit takes note, enabling you to review your driving habits for efficiency and safety.

Do GPS systems in electric cars work differently than those in traditional vehicles?

No, the working of a GPS navigation system in electric cars is not significantly different from those in traditional vehicles. Regardless of the vehicle type, the GPS devices utilize satellite navigation to determine the vehicle’s exact location. They decode the radio signals transmitted by satellites to pinpoint the car’s position. Hence, whether your car is electric or fueled by gas, the GPS device’s operation remains the same, ensuring reliable navigation.

Can a GPS tracker record the route taken by a car?

Yes, a real time GPS tracker can indeed record the route taken by a vehicle. This process, often referred to as creating ‘breadcrumb trails’, is a standard feature in most GPS tracking devices. As you drive, your GPS device continuously logs your location, creating a path that can be revisited later. This is an essential aspect of fleet management systems, providing valuable insights into route efficiency and driver behavior.

How do dash cams integrate with a GPS system in cars?

Dash cams can be integrated with the car’s GPS system to enhance the vehicle’s safety features. When a dash cam is synced with a GPS device, it can record the vehicle’s journey along with exact location data. In the event of an incident, the dash cam footage coupled with GPS data provides a comprehensive view of the circumstances, promoting accountability and safety on the roads.

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