From the not so humble beginnings of the first dealer installed navigation system- the Honda Electro Gyrocator which was available as an option for the 1981 Honda Accord to the sophisticated current day navigation systems that have become part of the optional equipment list for the majority of new cars, the equipment and technology used to help drivers find their way to where they are going has come a long way. Honda's ground-breaking introduction sent the automotive industry and electrical and information technology companies scrambling to perfect the technology.
The competition was quite fierce to develop a highly accurate, continuous real time automotive navigation system that would make getting lost an antiquated idea, while knowing how to get where you were going regardless of current and future locations would be commonplace. The passion exhibited by many developers to consistently explore new technologies that would enable people to easily explore the world around them was astounding. Their passion has resulted in navigation systems that use crisp LCD displays to present your vehicle's current location and provide turn by turn directions to the desired destination both verbally and visually. Alternative routes are immediately and automatically calculated and relayed to the driver should the driver miss a previously suggested turn or if unexpected occurrences such as traffic accidents or road construction obstruct the original route. Nearby essential services such as gas stations, hospitals, restaurants and motels are determined regardless of current destination. There are even some automotive navigation systems that are capable of double duty as a DVD player too, but obviously if the driver wants to watch a movie the vehicle should be at a complete stop.
GPS and navigation systems can be complicated to fully understand, but in general the vast majority of navigation systems use the Global Positioning System, or GPS, satellite signals to determine the precise current location of a vehicle. This information is then relayed via satellite signals to the device's internal map database which then prompts the unit to superimpose the location into its database. The unit will then determine and present the proper directions to the destination of the driver's choice. Prior destination information can be saved and stored within the system to retrieve in the future when traveling to the same destination, regardless of where you are traveling from.
Depending upon the manufacturer of the device, the map database may be stored in a hard disk, flash memory card, CD, DVD, read only memory (ROM) or a combination of these. It is common to find systems that permanently store the base map in ROM that is augmented with detailed information pertaining to the driver's regional interests as they are entered. Most navigation system map databases are updated by utilizing a personal computer to connect to the manufacturer's website and downloading the updates to the unit via a connection between the navigation unit and the pc.
In addition to being advantageous to individuals and families, there are many professions and industries that benefit substantially from automotive navigation systems. Those who drive fleet vehicles, such as taxi cabs, limousines and delivery trucks are often able to add to their company's profit margin by increasing time spent working and less time being lost or stuck in traffic. Real estate agents and appraisers, as well as in home services companies such as cleaners and plumbers, will also find getting to various and unfamiliar destinations much easier and quicker with the help of a navigation system
According to a report released in October of 2007 by JD Power and Associates, the best dealer installed navigation system, as determined by owner satisfaction surveys, is manufactured by Xanavi and available in the Infiniti G35, followed by the Denso unit found in the Lexus IS 250/350 and the Alpine system found in the Acura TL. In addition to being available as a dealer installed option or quite a few companies offer portable navigation systems that can easily be temporarily mounted to the dash of any car and transferred to different vehicles as necessary. Many of us already spend a lot of time in our cars and getting directly to our destinations with the help of an automotive navigation system can help us spend more time being where we wanted to be and less time traveling in the car.