Car Tech A to Z: N is for navigation

The letter N in our A to Z of car tech series explains the history of navigation

The technology contained within the modern motor car can be both fascinating and slightly baffling. Most such technology exists to make our cars safer, more efficient and just better than ever to drive but some of it can be quite confusing for the average motorist. In this A to Z series we will attempt to unravel the mystery of technology that is the modern motor car. This week, we’re visiting the letter N…

N is for…navigation. Sat navs have become an essential part of our motoring lives, the concept of using satellites to distinguish exactly where we are on the earth having been invented by the US military in the 1960s.

The first sat nav system was called Transit and was fairly rudimentary in its method, and not entirely accurate at all times either.

Modern systems now have many more satellites to latch on to, and all of these use an atomic clock to maintain perfect synchronisation with all the other satellites in the sky.

Modern systems can combine satellite navigation with infotainment and in-car connectivity all as one single smart package.

The car mapping for this type of system is based on real time traffic flow so it can also, via a smartphone app, take you from wherever you are on earth straight to your car, and it will even find you a parking space once you’ve reached your destination.

Via a route planner app, the system will also find you places of interest and navigate you straight to them, switching between the in-car navigation and the nav on your phone automatically, so that even once you’re on foot it will continue to guide you.

360 degree panoramic street view can also be incorporated - as per Google Earth - to help you work out where you are should, somehow, you get lost or disorientated.

And if you’re running late for whatever reason, some systems will text your friends or colleagues automatically to let them know you’re on your way but might be a little while yet.

It’s all a bit different from fighting to unfold a map and then trying read it while driving, that’s for sure.

Next, the letter O…

A-Z of car tech
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