Uses of GPS: What are GPS systems used for?

Your imagination is the only limitation to the possibilities of Global Positioning System (GPS) technologies. GPS systems are extremely versatile and can be found in almost any industry sector. Today, GPS is used to map forests, help farmers harvest their fields and airplane pilots navigate on the ground or in the air. Positioning systems are integral to military applications and for emergency crews to locate people in need of assistance. GPS technologies are often working in many areas that we do not normally consider.

Examples of GPS uses

Global Positioning System applications generally fall into 5 major categories:

  1. Location – determining a position
  2. Navigation – getting from one location to another
  3. Tracking – monitoring object or personal movement
  4. Mapping – creating maps of the world
  5. Timing – bringing precise timing to the world

In every case, uses of GPS are based on measuring the individual’s distance from multiple satellites. GPS is just one of several groups of satellites used to determine a position. Galileo, GLONASS, BeiDou and GPS are the four main satellite constellations used worldwide. Technologies use signals from these satellites to measure the individual’s distance from these satellites. The Introduction to GNSS on-demand webinar series explains in more detail how these calculations are done. Through these measurements, GPS technologies can identify where an individual is in the world and how to navigate to another location.

GPS is used to calculate very specific and precise timing thanks to the rubidium clocks on each satellite. These clocks enable the satellites to know their precise location at very precise times, and this timing information is used in various applications including marine hydrography, autonomous vehicles and precision agriculture.

What is GPS used for today?

From mining to aviation, agriculture to marine, recreation to defense, there are many applications for GPS technology. These days, everyone from doctors, scientists, farmers, soldiers, pilots, hikers, delivery drivers, sailors, fishermen, dispatchers, athletes, and people from many other walks of life are using GPS systems in ways that make their work more productive, safer, and easier.

The three main industrial uses of GPS include precision agriculture, automotive and defense. In each example, GPS solves a positioning problem. Episode seven of our Introduction to GNSS series explains how satellite positioning supports these three unique applications.

How does NovAtel use GPS?

Hexagon | NovAtel is a leading provider of precise global positioning system and augmentation technologies designed to afford its customers rapid integration and exceptional return on investment. Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) apply our positioning and autonomy technologies in diversified markets, making NovAtel a prime supplier of devices from GPS ground reference receivers to worldwide satellite-based augmentation systems (SBAS).

NovAtel’s family of engines and compact enclosures includes the company’s latest innovations in precise positioning. NovAtel antennas enhance positioning performance with our patented Pinwheel™ technology. All NovAtel receivers offer the ability to unlock additional functionality as system requirements evolve with field-upgradeable software. Certain receivers also feature the optional Application Programming Interface (API) for the development of specialized onboard applications.

See the range of GPS/GNSS Applications in our Technology in Action blog posts

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