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A navigation package is an option that can be purchased on select new vehicles as well as some used vehicles. Consisting of enhancements that create a more user-friendly method of finding locations and addresses, the navigation package may contain one or more conveniences such as a compass or Global Positioning System (GPS). Compact disk read-only memory (CD-ROM) mapping systems or a voice-activated direction finder might also be included in the navigation package. With optional equipment available to make traditional map reading obsolete, the navigation package could prove to be a convenience to travelers.
The earliest versions of the popular option package were offered on the vehicles of the 1950s in the United States. The compass was the first equipment offered with relevance to a navigation package. First introduced as an actual liquid-filled compass mounted on the vehicle's dash, the compass has evolved as an electronic feature found in the rear-view mirror of most vehicles. Much like the compass, most navigation package options began as a stand-alone feature that evolved into the electronic technology offered in most of the automobiles manufactured around the world today.
Many vehicle manufacturers offered an available portable navigation package similar to the famous Tom-Tom™ unit before the technology became available in the vehicle itself. Automobile owners were able to download any destination into the portable dash-mounted unit and it would give directions to the destination. Soon, automobile manufacturers began to offer systems that actually interfaced with an owner's cellular telephone and iPod® units. These systems began to evolve very fast and soon became the technological wonders of the modern navigation package.
The complex navigation systems offered on vehicles are able to read maps on CDs and understand driver voice commands. The Ford Motor Company stated in an advertisement that the navigation systems offered in its automobile line contained more technology than the first lunar landing craft. The On-Star system that General Motors offers on its new vehicle lineup can provide real-time diagnostic checks, unlock vehicle doors as well as give directions to almost any place a driver might want to visit. In addition, it offers accident reporting and emergency notifications.
The glove compartment is no longer needed to store road maps and atlas books. Science has created a virtual vehicle that knows more about a planned road trip than the driver planning the trip. Some navigation systems also are able to send alternate routing when an accident or other interruption in traffic flow has been detected.