What is GPS ?

The Global Positioning System (GPS) is a technical marvel made possible by a group of satellites in Earth's orbit.

The Global Positioning System (GPS) is a technical marvel made possible by a group of satellites in Earth's orbit. It transmits precise signals, allowing GPS receivers to calculate and display accurate location, speed, and time information to the user. GPS is owned by the U.S.

By capturing the signals from satellites, GPS receivers are able to use the mathematical principle of trilateration to pinpoint your location. With the addition of computing power and data stored in memory such as road maps, points of interest, topographic information, and much more, GPS receivers are able to convert location, speed, and time information into a useful display format.

The Invention and Evolution of GPS

GPS was originally created by the United States Department of Defense (DOD) as a military application. The system has been active since the early 1980s but began to become useful to civilians in the late 1990s with the advent of consumer devices that support it. Consumer GPS has since become a multi-billion dollar industry with a wide array of products, services, and internet-based utilities. As with most technology, its development is ongoing; while it's a true modern marvel, engineers recognize its limitations and work continuously to overcome them.

GPS Capabilities

  • GPS works accurately in all weather conditions, around the clock, and around the globe.
  • There is no subscription fee to use GPS signals.
  • GPS receivers are generally accurate within 15 meters, and newer models that use Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) signals are accurate within three meters.

GPS Limitations

  • GPS signals may be blocked by dense forest, canyon walls, skyscrapers, bridges, walls, and the like, making accurate GPS navigation difficult or impossible.
  • Likewise, GPS doesn't work well in indoor and underground spaces.
  • Satellite maintenance, radio interference, and solar storms can cause coverage gaps.