What is a Navigation System?

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  • Written By: Troy Holmes
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 26 September 2019
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Many people use automated mapping software to assist with directions. A navigation system is a computer program that provides graphical maps, coordinates, and directions on a screen. These mapping systems are available on computers, car stereos, and many smart phones. This software provides detailed directions by using satellite imagery and geospatial technology.

A navigation system is normally available in moderately priced automobiles. This type of mapping device is mounted in the dashboard and typically configured within the car stereo system. The system provides turn-by-turn directions to the driver by using voice-response software.

Programming a navigation system for a trip is a simple process. Most destinations can be searched by name, address, or business type. The user must enter the destination criteria before he begins driving. For safety reasons, the data entry screen is disabled while the automobile is in motion.

Most modern mapping devices also provide real-time traffic information. This advanced navigation system is connected to the Internet via wireless technology and provides the driver with critical routing options. When the system detects traffic problems, it can offer alternative directions, which saves valuable time.


A portable navigation system is good for cars and motorcycles. This type of mapping device is normally connected to an auxiliary power supply within the automobile. Most portable units can be attached to the window of the vehicle with special suction cups. It is important to ensure the unit has a clear view of the sky. This provides the necessary satellite access that is required for real-time directions.

A mapping system is typically programmed with special navigation software. The mapping data is normally stored on a digital video disc (DVD) or downloaded from the Internet. This device requires periodic updates to account for changes in roads and businesses.

Over the last decade, navigation systems have become tightly integrated with companies across the world. This has made it easier for consumers to locate businesses while traveling. Most units provide information for local gas stations, hotels, restaurants, and emergency services.

Many cell phones today include a built-in navigation system. This technology allows the tracking and plotting of directions based on global positioning satellite (GPS) technology. The GPS system maps the current location with a destination to determine the fastest route.

A hand-held portable mapping device is a good option for an outdoor enthusiast. This can provide detailed directions for hikers, runners, and bike riders. The portable unit is typically powered by batteries. Having a portable mapping device can help an individual find his way in remote areas.


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