When the geographic position system (GPS) was introduced to the public in 1983, the technology was rudimentary at best, showing very little but a basic grid position on a small very screen. It was also very expensive for the U.S. consumers, with an average cost of around $400 dollars retail. At the time, this was pretty steep for most American buyers. This is perhaps why GPS tracking did not find mainstream acceptance until around 1996 when the price of the technology went down.
Still, it wouldn’t be until 2005 that people embraced the technology wholeheartedly. Today, nearly all modern vehicles offer some version of the GPS Navigator. Most people can also now afford a personal GPS system that helps them find their way around town or instructs them of traffic hotspots to avoid. As we continue to make GPS tracking technology increasingly advanced and affordable, more and more users become reliant on them, so we must ask if they are as foolproof as we are often led to believe.
Are Geographic Position Systems Infallible?
First invented and used by the U.S. military, the GPS system utilizes satellites that send and receive information to monitoring devices. It does this by using longitude and latitude calculations (the X and Y’s of the global world), which in turn, aids drivers, hikers and bikers in locating target destinations.
But is possible for our GPS navigators to mislead us or even get us lost? The answer to that is yes. There are a few reasons for this.
Number one is the fact that many GPS trackers cannot easily factor in major changes in the roadways. This had made them lead some individuals towards construction areas and unfinished highways as they try to find their way to a new locale. It also has this issue when it comes to brand new neighborhoods or communities. For instance, a completed subdivision may not be imputed into the GPS navigational database for several years. Friends and family who try to visit people in this area could find that the GPS will put them in the general location of the neighborhood but won’t be able to get you directly there.
Inclement Weather Interference
GPS tracking devices can also be affected by the weather, which of course makes sense. Just as Satellite TV dishes are affected by natural weather phenomenon like wind, rain or snow, GPS units can be too for the same reason. When the receivers that send information back and forth are thus blocked, GPS navigation can be compromised.
Coastal and Elevated Areas
Mountain ranges, hills and coastal areas also have a propensity to interfere with GPS readings. This is turn can make it give misinformation that will leave you on a winding trail to no where.
A GPS Tracker is a handy tool, but consumers should always keep in mind that all technology can have its flaws, and thus they should not rely solely on them. This is why all drivers, no matter if they have a GPS device with postal code map or not, should have a traditional map in their car. When in doubt, the motorist can also call their destination area to receive further info on landmarks and turns that can help when their GPS tracker fails them.
That said, the GPS navigator is primarily reliable and can make a fairly trustworthy companion for travelers who need a gentle nudge in the right direction when heading towards unfamiliar territory.