How Does a GPS Work and do I Need One In My Car?

GPS stands for “global positioning system”. A “GPS system”, as it’s sometimes redundantly called, uses satellite signals coming from orbit to determine its position. A GPS receiver needs four satellite signals to calculate its position. That’s because GPS needs to calculate three spatial dimensions and a fourth to solve a miscalculation having to do with a lag time in the clock (multiplied by the speed of light, causing a big error), so that you’ll need satellite coverage to know your exact location on Earth.

Given that there are several thousand satellites orbiting Earth, finding several that are bouncing signals usually isn’t that much of a problem, though it can be. In these cases, GPS receivers can either use three satellites or other methods (last known position, already calculated information or even dead reckoning) to make up for the lack of information.

GPS Routing

If you are going directly to work and back, you won’t need a GPS. Routing unfamiliar territories is the primary reason to use your GPS devce. You probably already know the best way to work and you can probably do it in your sleep, at least as long as you are taking your regular route.

But if there is a traffic jam from a pile-up and you’re looking for the next best way to get to your work, you can use your GPS routing feature to find alternate routes to work. Or if you have the address of a place to put your car in the shop, stop off for a good meal or any other after-work stops you need to make, you’ll find that a GPS device will make your life a lot easier.


People who have used Mapquest to plot their way to a new location will know how helpful that information is. Consider a GPS like a talking Mapquest, where you only give the address of your destination and then the computer voice tells you when and where to turn to get to that destination. If that sounds like a better option than having your spouse feverishly turn through a road map or atlas and give you last-second directions, then you need a GSP in your work. You’ll find a GPS system works better than a human does, and is generally a lot less annoying on a long trip. (At the very least, you can turn off your GPS.)

Do I Need A GPS If I Travel A Lot? – GPS Comuting

Yes, the primary porpuse of GPS is comuting. People who travel by automobile a great deal (truckers, delivery men, road trippers, tourists) will use a GPS receiver every single day. These people definitely need a GPS, or at least a GPS system will make their life a lot less difficult. If you need to find your destination often or you are afraid of getting lost when driving or boating, you’ll find your Gps receiver invaluable.

If you don’t, you’ll have less need of a GPS receiver. That being said, those people who buy global positioning system technologies often say they wouldn’t be able to live without them, now that they know what they were missing all those years. You will find even a casual driver will find a good use for their Gps devices, because they will always know the quickest way from one place to the next (assuming they aren’t in an outlying area that isn’t fully mapped yet).

Otherwise, people who like technology or buying gadgets are going to have to buy a GPS for their car. Even if you’re just finding your way to the nearest Starbucks or the kid’s soccer field, a gps transceiver is a handy gadget to have. There are even hobby uses of GPS’s, such as the growing hobby of geocaching, where people use GPS tech to find hidden treasures (or “geocaches”) placed around the world by other geocachers.