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Navigation Systems

It has never been as easy as it is today to find an unknown destination. Whereas previously, one had to search in a road map, now a quick look at the navigation system is sufficient to reach a destination without making any greater detours. The job of a navigation system, is to guide the driver, taking several criteria into consideration, to a previously chosen destination. In the practice, what sounds very complicated has in fact, been kept very simple.

One enters the destination in the device, and where appropriate, also the street and house number. Then the device calculates, according to where you are at the moment, the shortest or fastest route to your destination. Modern navigation systems take into consideration, e.g. avoidance of motorways, truck routes etc.

There are two navigation systems, an American and a Russian, in the near future there will also be a third, from Europe, which (like so many other things) is probably intended, first of all, only for military purposes. On every point on earth one basically has a connection to at least four satellites. The magic words are Global Positioning System. To determine the position, almost all the most common devices use the services of NAVSTAR-GPS.

Every GPS-receiver picks up data from all the satellites that are accessible at that moment. These orbit the earth at a height of approx. 20.000 km. The respective satellite broadcasts, from which position, and at what time it has sent the signal. The more signals received, the the more precise the calculation becomes. With, e.g., four signals, the relationship to sea level can be determined. Through the exact analysis of the degrees of latitude and longitude one can assume an accuracy of roughly ten meters.

Navigation is possible in a car, a motorcycle and also on foot with a GPS receiver and an organizer, which nowadays, have been reduced to about the size of a mobile telephone. The laying out of an aerial cable is also no longer necessary. As soon as electricity is laid on, you're on your way, they can be had for about €100 (2008). Although the cheapest devices sometimes suffer from slight dated software- and ageing maps, one will still be guided fairly comfortably.

Of course, a permanently installed system has the substantially larger screen, access to the vehicle-sensors and can determine, from the word go, the travel direction. Indeed however, the price differences are vast. For most devices there is nearly always some surcharge for the more extensive and detailed European maps and sometimes, also for the larger memory storage needed. However, one then has the latest software and the operation is more simple and reliable.

Whatever the case may be,whether the display is a little bigger and more illuminated, they all have a speech module. In rare cases they are not loud enough and sometimesdon't give enough time for one to prepare oneself for a possible critical traffic situation, but none have really failed the tests. There are those who guide you taking small detours, but in the end, they all find the destination.

Should the provided maps be limited to Germany, one can purchase further maps later, or one can take out a subscription to get the newest map material. This is important in the event that the device supports the Traffic Message Channel or TMCpro. The device can then independently calculate a diversion route if there is a tail-back up ahead. At the moment, TMC costs about €30 extra. Many devices which have a great deal of additionaly software, cost about €200. Should you wish to spend a lot more money, even a voice input is possible, And for over €700 one can get a complete travel guide with explantions and tips while youre driving.

In addition, most navigation systems also have an electronic compass, thereby, the direction in which you're moving can also be displayed. Another interesting feature is the showing of your momentary speed. Based on the newer, digital maps, even a 3-D view can be generated.

Even though the system is predominantly found in the motor vehicle area, there are also other application possibilities for the mobile devices. There are, e,g., devices with GPS-receivers for cyclists or pedestrians, which can also be used for hiking or sailing. These devices are mostly called 'outdoor navigation systems'. Then there are those which have been specially conceived for people with a sight impairment, fitting to their particular requirements. For these devices, the manufacturers have developed a special control unit, through which the device can be voice operated. 11/10

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