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 in orbit for military operations, but in the 1980s made the system available to the public at no charge. Since the system works anywhere in the world at any time of day and in any weather condition, there is a place for GPS in the transportation industry.

How GPS works in the transportation industry

Twice a day, GPS satellites revolve around the Earth, move in a precise orbit, and transmit signals. GPS receivers capture this information and calculate the exact location of a user using triangulation. An electronic map on the receiver shows this location in 2D or 3D depending on the number of satellites in view from the receiver. After determining the user’s position, the unit can calculate the distance to the destination, speed, heading, directions, and other information.

GPS tracking systems have been important to the development of the automobile transport industry. Reputable trucking companies use this technology to strengthen their businesses. GPS is used to constantly track the location of transport vehicles so supervisors know where each member of the fleet is at all times. Customers can access this information, allowing them to monitor shipments.

GPS safety and emergency functions in the transportation industry

With significant investments in fleets and expensive cargo on board, safety becomes a priority for shipping companies. An accident or other emergency can happen at any time and GPS allows supervisors to quickly identify when something goes wrong during transportation. They can see a vehicle drifting off 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 emergencies on the roads. Drivers who encounter problems 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, most importantly, life or death.

GPS is extremely accurate due to the multi-channel parallel design of today’s receivers. Newer 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 a lifespan of about ten years.

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