The amazing NAVSTAR satellite system costs an estimated $400 million per year to operate, it is offered free as a public good. The GPS Satellite Constellation was developed in the 1970s by the United States Department of Defense and is maintained by the United States Air Force 50th Space Wing. Those of us who enjoy our GPS Navigation Systems – say our Garmin StreetPilot, a Navman N601 or Lowrance iWay 250, for example – may not have been aware of the extent to which we have benefited from cutting-edge military and space technology.
As might be expected, as partners with military and aerospace engineers, the GPS industry is constantly seeking new ways to make GPS Navigation Systems even more effective. Innovations like the Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) are designed to improve the accuracy and integrity of GPS reception. WAAS in particular is a popular and effective technology, available in many GPS devices like the: Garmin Street Pilot 7200, the Garmin Zumo 550 (GPS Navigation for Motorcycles), the Magellan Roadmate 6000T Navigation System, and even low cost handheld GPS devices like the Magellan eXplorist 100.
Consumers can understandably feel overwhelmed by the large number of features available in today’s GPS marketplace (and the acronym “alphabet soup” that seems to go with it. Please see our GPS Technology glossary that explains the most common terms and technologies you should be familiar with when considering the purchase of a GPS Navigation system.)