Auto nav system: what is it?

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Automotive navigation systems use GPS to show a vehicle’s location in real-time and provide information about travel routes and times. They can also locate nearby landmarks and provide information on traffic, parking, and speed cameras. They were once a fictional idea but became a reality in the 1990s when on-board computers had enough processing power and the GPS system became available to the public. They can be built into a vehicle or purchased separately and added.

An automotive navigation system is a computer mapping device designed to help drivers find a destination. Some of these devices are built into the vehicle, while others can be purchased separately and added. Any type of automotive navigation system is designed to be mounted on the dashboard or for easy reference. Most coordinate a computerized road map with a satellite link to the Global Positioning System (GPS) to show the vehicle’s location in real time.

A dashboard display for vehicle navigation was a fictional idea for decades, appearing in movies featuring the likes of Batman and James Bond. By the end of the 20th century, car manufacturers were finally ready to make the automotive navigation system a reality. On-board computers had reached enough processing power and compact screen size by the 1990s. The GPS system, originally designed for the US military, became available to the general public in 2000. That same year, a manufacturer emphasized the high-tech nature of automotive navigation systems with TV commercials featuring Batman.

An automotive navigation system typically includes a built-in database of road maps; Some systems allow these maps to be updated by connecting the car’s computer to the manufacturer’s website. The device also has a means of receiving signals from the GPS satellites, as well as a backup system in case the surrounding terrain cuts off these signals. The automotive navigation system coordinates these devices to provide information about the vehicle’s location, destination, and travel routes and times. Some systems can also pinpoint local landmarks or track the vehicle in case of theft.

The most advanced navigation systems provide drivers with a wealth of information about their surroundings. For example, some systems locate nearby gas stations and report their current prices. Others provide information on current traffic, potential parking spots, and even the location of speed cameras and speed traps. In 2007, an Australian driver actually avoided a speeding citation by offering speed data from his car navigation system to the police. However, it should not be assumed that this will always work; it is generally not advisable to argue with a police officer.

Taxis, city buses, and even golf carts can use specialized automotive navigation systems. Some systems also incorporate entertainment or communications devices, such as DVD players, cell phones, or Wi-Fi Internet receivers. Advanced handheld devices such as smartphones also offer GPS positioning and other navigation features, and can sometimes be installed in a dash as a makeshift automotive navigation system.

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