The global positioning system, or GPS, is a solar-powered satellite navigation system consisting of 24 satellites located 11,000 nautical miles in space. The United States Department of Defense placed these satellites into orbit for military operations but in the 1980s, made the system available at no charge to the public. Since the system works anywhere in the world during any time of day and in any weather conditions, there is a place for GPS in the transportation industry.
The Workings of GPS in the Transportation Industry
Twice a day, GPS satellites circle Earth, moving in a precise orbit and transmitting signals. GPS receivers capture this information and calculate the exact location of a user through triangulation. An electronic map on the receiver displays this location in either 2D or 3D depending on the number of satellites in view from the receiver. After determining the position of the user, the unit can calculate distance to destination, speed, bearing, directions, and other information.
GPS tracking systems have been important to the development of the auto transportation industry. Reputable ground transportation companies use this technology to strengthen their businesses. GPS is used to constantly track the location of transportation vehicles so supervisors know where each member of the fleet is at all times. Customers may have access to this information, allowing them to monitor shipments.
Safety and Emergency Roles of GPS in the Transportation Industry
With major investments in fleets and expensive cargo on board, safety becomes a top priority for shipping companies. An accident or other emergency can occur at any time and GPS allows supervisors to quickly identify when something goes wrong during transport. They can see a vehicle veering away from the intended course or making unscheduled stops, allowing them to respond immediately.
When GPS is used for fleet tracking, data is transmitted in real-time. Emergency services also use GPS to locate and respond to vehicle accidents and other roadway emergencies. Drivers who encounter trouble rely on this technology to keep their cargo and themselves as safe as possible. Quick response to an emergency can mean the difference between intact and lost cargo and more important, life and death.
GPS is extremely accurate due to the parallel multi-channel design of current receivers. The newest receivers improve accuracy to an average of less than three meters. Signals can pass through glass, plastic, and clouds and satellites are built and launched to replace existing satellites, which have an approximately ten-year life span.