Global Positioning System – Overview, Types, Features and Applications

The full form of GPS is Global Positioning System. The global positioning system uses various satellites for navigation and helps users position, timing, and location. It uses the ground station and satellite control station to provide accurate information in all weather conditions.

The GPS has the satellite constellation where the 24 satellites lie in the six earth-centered orbits. Each earth center contains four satellites. The three satellites position the earth’s surface and tell accurate information about the location, while the fourth will validate the information from all the other three satellites.

GPS is a US-owned utility and is maintained by the Department of Defense. It was one of the significant technical programs in the US that were started in 1973. The initiative was started by the name Navstar Global Positioning System.

Elements of GPS

Space Segment

The GPS works on the constellation of satellites that provide the users’ radio signals. To cater to this purpose across the globe, the US is committing to making available 24 GPS satellites that continue to provide radio signals and navigation facilities to the users.

Control Segment

The control segment analyzes the performance of each satellite. It checks the version and monitors the transfer of signals to the users. It comprises several global networks, and it sends the data to the constellation to further transmit commands to the users.

User Segment

The GPS receiver receives the information on their equipment like watches, vehicles, or smartphones. It helps in calculating the exact position and time of the receiver.

Types Of GPS

Active GPS

The active GPS helps in dealing with real-life scenarios. For example, if someone is driving the vehicle, it helps them know the exact location and the time they will take to reach their destinations.

Passive GPS

The passive GPS can find the location and store the data. The user can download the data and analyze it according to the requirement. The user can work upon various factors like velocity, mileage, time, and speed.

Features of GPS

Low accident cases

The GPS has the feature that can send an alert in case the vehicle is in the form of overspeeding or idle. Overspeed leads to more fuel consumption and raises the chances of accidents, while idling invites more insurance costs and fuel wastage.

So, the GPS enables low fuel consumption while taking care of accidental issues.

Better Optimization of routes

The GPS shows the shortest route so that the user can reach the destination early. The GPS has made navigation easy. It offers alternate routes with the timings and with the excellent road conditions.

Get the maintenance alerts.

Some luxurious vehicles get the alerts, and the user can also subscribe to the Email alerts. It alerts the user if any part of the equipment needs maintenance or replacement in both cases.

For example, in many luxury cars, it may show that brake pads have wear and tear and need immediate care, which helps avoid accidents.

Commercial Vehicle tracking

With commercial vehicle tracking, people don’t need to take reports from the drivers. The user can directly check through the GPS and where the vehicle is.

The user can also make the virtual boundaries on the GPS. Through this feature, the user can check the worker’s performance as they can track when they enter or exit the boundaries.

GPS Applications

Tracking Location

It is one of the best apps on mobile to know the route to unfamiliar places. The GPS shows the exact way to the destination.

Recovery of car

GPS installed vehicles are safe. The recovery of the car is possible in case of theft. The GPS helps the owner in locating their vehicle.

The best technology for adventure lovers

During adventure activities like hiking, people may get separated from each other. But thanks to GPS technology, it can help find their companion easily on unfamiliar routes.


Mining is another useful application of the GPS where miners can track the availability of minerals under the earth’s crust with the GPS.

Factors affecting GPS accuracy

The satellite position

The satellite position has a lot of impact on GPS accuracy. Indeed, there are three satellites for tracking and one to eliminate error, but the more satellites positioned the better accuracy. The GPS device gets a better signal if the satellites are evenly positioned.

GPS receivers factors

Many GPS receivers factors like the position algorithm, number of satellite tracking channels, and antenna performance affect the GPS accuracy. Also, the bandwidth range and the frequency bands affect the receiver’s accuracy.

Different earth levels can affects GPS accuracy.

The GPS signals have to travel through the different earth layers, affecting the accuracy of the signals. For example, the ionosphere can affect the velocity of the signal, while the troposphere affects the radio reflections.

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