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What is GPS?

GPS image GPS or Global Positioning System is a network of orbiting satellites that send precise details of their position in space back to earth. The signals are obtained by GPS receivers, such as navigation devices and are used to calculate the exact position, speed and time at the vehicles location.

GPS is well-known for its military uses and was first developed by the US to aid in its global intelligence efforts at the height of the Cold War.

Ever since the early 1980s, however, the GPS has been freely available to anyone with a GPS receiver. Airlines, shipping companies, trucking firms, and drivers everywhere use the GPS system to track vehicles, follow the best route to get them from A to B in the shortest possible time.

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The very first GPS system was developed in the 1960s to allow ships in the US Navy to navigate the oceans more accurately. The first system had five satellites and allowed ships to check their location once every hour. Today, portable Navigation device devices can give drivers their precise location to within a few meters, which is accurate enough to navigate roadways. Military applications have much higher precision so that a location can be pinpointed within a few centimeters.

The US NAVSTAR Global Positioning System (GPS) is the only fully operational Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) currently providing positioning data with global coverage. The European Union is currently developing its own GPS known as the Galileo positioning system, which will be operational by 2013. China has a local system it may expand globally, while Russia is currently restoring its GLONASS system.