Automotive navigation systems have a satellite navigation system, designed for use in automobiles. They use a GPS navigation device to acquire position data to locate the user on a road in the unit's map database. Using the road database, the unit can give directions to other locations along roads also in its database. Dead reckoning using distance data from sensors attached to the drivetrain, a gyroscope and an accelerometer can be used for greater reliability, as GPS signal loss and/or multipath can occur due to urban canyons or tunnels.
Automotive navigation systems were the subject of extensive experimentation, including some efforts to reach mass markets, prior to the availability of commercial GPS. Most major technologies required for modern automobile navigation were already established when the microprocessor emerged in the 1970s to support their integration and enhancement by computer software. These technologies subsequently underwent extensive refinement, and a variety of system architectures had been explored by the time practical systems reached the market in the late 1980s. Among the other enhancements of the 1980s was the development of color displays for digital maps and of CD-ROMs for digital map storage.
However, there is some question about who made the first commercially available automotive navigation systems. There seems to be little room for doubt that Etak was first to make available a digital system that used map-matching to improve on dead reckoning instrumentation. Etak's systems, which accessed digital map information stored on standard cassette tapes, arguably made car navigation systems practical for the first time. Steven Lobbezoo developed the first commercially available satellite navigation system for cars. It was produced in Berlin from start 1984 to January 1986. It was presented first at the Hannover fair in 1985 in Germany. It used a modified IBM PC, a large disc for map data and a flat screen, built into the glove compartment. It was called Homer (after the device from a James Bond movie). Honda claims to have created the first navigation system starting in 1983, and culminating with general availability in the 1990 Acura Legend. The original analog Electro Gyrocator system used an accelerometer to navigate using inertial navigation, as the GPS system was not yet generally available. However, it appears from Honda's concessions in their own account of the Electro Gyrocator project that Etak actually trumped Honda's analog effort with a truly practical digital system, albeit one whose effective range of operation was limited by the availability of appropriately digitized street. Both Mitsubishi Electric and Pioneer claim to be the first with a GPS-based auto navigation system, in 1990. Also in 1990, a draft patent application was filed within Digital Equipment Co. Ltd. for a multi-function device called PageLink that had real-time maps for use in a car listed as one of its functions. Magellan, a GPS navigation system manufacturer, claims to have created the first GPS-based vehicle navigation system in the U.S. in 1995. In 1995, Oldsmobile introduced the first GPS navigation system available in a production car, called GuideStar. There also was an Oldsmobile navigation system available as an option as early as 1994 called the Oldsmobile Navigation/Information System. It was an option on the Oldsmobile Eighty Eight. However it was not until 2000 that the United States made a more accurate GPS signal available for civilian use.
The road database is a vector map of some area of interest. Street names or numbers and house numbers are encoded as geographic coordinates so that the user can find some desired destination by street address. Points of interest (waypoints) will also be stored with their geographic coordinates. Point of interest specialties include speed cameras, fuel stations, public parking, and "parked here" (or "you parked here"). Contents can be produced by the user base as their cars drive along existing streets (Wi-Fi) and communicating via the internet, yielding a free and up-to-date map.
Portable GPS: This type of GPS navigation device is not permanently integrated into the vehicle, having only a simple bracket to mount the device on the surface of the dashboard and powered via the car auxiliary outlet. This class of GPS unit does not require professional installation and can typically be used as handheld device, too. Benefits of this type of GPS unit include low cost as well as the ability to move them easily to other vehicles. Furthermore, not having a compass, accelerometer or inputs from the vehicle's speed sensors, means that they cannot navigate as accurately by dead reckoning as some built-in devices when there's no GPS signal. More modern portable devices have an inbuilt accelerometer to try to address this.
A portable automotive navigation systems kit generally includes: Mini-USB sync cable, AC adaptor, Car charger, Car mount kit, Pouch, Wrist band, External antenna (optional by model), Stylus, Battery pack, Document kit, SD card with preload map, Companion CD-ROM, and Navigation software CD-ROM.
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