Auto navigation systems have come such a long way since their inception. It’s hard for many to see the product that exists now and realize exactly how far these devices have come since their origins in the U. S. Armed Forces. The thing to keep in mind and remember is that they still have a long way to go. These devices are far from infallible and still have some serious faults that prohibit us from canning the compass and maps altogether.
One thing to keep in mind is that there are almost always problems of some sort with electronic equipment. This is especially true when it comes to equipment that is run by software. If anyone doubts the validity of this statement, check out a computer that is run by Windows? We often find ourselves at the mercy of the limitations of the software we are using. The same holds true when it comes to software-driven auto navigation systems and GPS devices. This fact alone makes them a little unreliable. For those times when reliability isn’t at its best keep in mind that for the most part, the system works well. It’s just difficult when the times you need it to work well are the times when it is malfunctioning. The good news is that the units themselves are often quite resilient and even able to withstand the manhandling a typical rough and tumble two-year-old can dish out.
It is also important to keep in mind that GPS technology isn’t meant to replace the use of maps or of common sense when driving. You can only store so much information on a GPS device and roads are constantly being built, changes, constructed, improved, and moved. For that reason alone it is nearly impossible to guarantee that any device will have 100% accurate information at all times. You should, however, choose a device or auto navigation system that allows frequent and simple upgrades to the maps provided. Updating regularly and immediately prior to any large trips will go a long way towards saving some serious hair pulling while you travel.
Another thing to keep in mind with your auto navigation device is that it isn’t all that reliable whenever you don’t have a clear view of the sky. For that reason, there may be times when you aren’t able to get a clear signal. Tunnels are a great example of one of those times. It’s not just about one signal, the device must be able to lock onto three satellites at the very least in order to be ‘seen’. A fourth satellite is usually required for verification of the data. This means that in some situations where you have a clear view of the sky, you may not be in a position where all four satellites have a clear view of you and more importantly your device.
GPS and auto navigation systems are still a far cry better than trying to read dusty old maps for most of us. Despite that, it is always a good idea to go into a buying situation with all the facts in hand rather than thinking you’ve discovered the next best thing to sliced bread only to find out that the crust is a little hard and crumbly at times. This technology is wonderful and affords many benefits to those who are willing and able to make use of it. It will never sacrifice common sense or map reading skills however and that is important to understand.