Off-Road GPS Navigation – Concepts and Software

GPS NAVIGATION

GPS is a navigation system that is made of 24 satellites which are placed into the orbit by the US Department of Defence. These satellite circle the Earth in an extremely precise orbit twice a day and transmit signals to the earth 24 hours a day, in all e] weather conditions and anywhere on earth. The GPS receivers use this transmitted information to calculate the exact location of the user. Over the last many years, GPS enabled navigation systems have become hugely popular all over the world and are used for a lot of tasks that require locational data such as in cars, ships, aircrafts and even tourists or runners. These days GPS systems are found and used through various personal navigational devises, mobile phones, tablets, computers, Bluetooth dongles etc.

OFF-ROAD GPS NAVIGATION

For personal GPS use, the GPS units use the online Maps, such as Google Maps to pin point the geographical location of the user, when translated from the GPS co ordinates and show the name of the street or the building as fed into the Maps for those particular co ordinates. However there are many adventure seekers and other people that like to or have to go to places that might not have any roads or names of places. Commonly known as ‘Off Roading’, this activity involves riding or driving your vehicle through unnamed, often unsurfaced roads and terrains or through mountains, snow, mud, rocks and drive through uninhabited areas. A robust, reliable GPS Navigation system is of extreme importance in these situations and can be a difference between a great off roading experience or one that can compromise personal safety.

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CONCEPTS OF OFF-ROAD GPS NAVIGATION

Off-road Navigation fundamentally can be of three broad types:

1) Discovery Type: Basically, in this type of navigation, one is not sure of where they are going. The Off-road GPS Navigation system keeps tracking the path that one takes so if one gets lost, they can go back using the track data or one can also track the progress so as to not keep going back to the same points. This is quite rare in these days of excellent mapping software available.

2) Way-point Navigation: In this type of Off-road navigation, the user inputs the latitude/ longitude of the place that one wants to go to and the navigator will plot a route map for the user along the off-road terrain. It is then up to the user to take the easiest or the most challenging path, as they want.

3) Track-point Navigation: This is the easiest as well as more dangerous than the other forms. Basically it depends on somebody else that has done the same track and has given you the track log that you put into your off-road navigator and follow the same path. The danger lies in the fact that since the track can be in forested areas, the flora and fauna might have changed with passing time and can prove to be a different track altogether.

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OFF-ROAD NAVIGATION SOFTWARE:

The main platforms for Off-road Navigation Software are:

Maps: Maps are the most commonly used software these days for GPS navigation, with most software using static maps which are in different image related formats with most basic maps being JPEG and a calibration file.

Navigation: Any good off-road software must support the ability to navigate to a waypoint, show ETA, heading, bearing etc. At the same time, the software must have the ability to load tracks, record them and show those in real time. The most common apps for navigation are found on the various hand held mobile devices such as cell phones, some of which run on proprietary operating systems. These days the Android, IOS and Symbian and Windows operating systems have various compatible GPS mapping software, some of which are free.

 

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