The first automobile navigation system, designed by Honda, came up in 1983. The system went on to become a general feature in the 1990 version of Acura Legend. This system was a nascent one in which an accelerometer was used to judge locations since the GPS was not yet available for general use. Later in 1990, Pioneer claimed to be the first to bring out a GPS-based auto navigation system.
Most navigation systems in automobiles use a combination of the following elements:
-- Top view of the map with the map rotating like the automobile -- Bird's-eye view of the next curve -- Linear gauge for distance( redundant, if a rotating map is used) -- Numbers for distance
The road data base that this system uses is basically a vector map of a specific area. All names and addresses and points of interest of the area are encoded as geographical co-ordinates. The user can find them all just by the street address. The database is continuously updated, via the internet, as the person drives from one area to another.
This database can be stored in physical read-only memory (ROM), optical media (CD or DVD), solid-state flash memory, magnetic media (hard disk), or a combination of these. A common practice is to have a base map permanently stored in the ROM, which can then be enhanced with detailed information of a region that the user is interested in. A ROM comes programmed from the factory; the other media may be pre-programmed, or downloaded from a CD or DVD via a computer.
The formats used in this system are proprietary because there is no industry standard for satellite navigation maps. There two map vendors, Tele Atlas and NAVTEQ, create the base maps in a standard format GDF. Each electronics manufacturer thereafter compiles it in an optimized format.
Many automobile navigation systems do more than help users find locations. They give information on services such as restaurants, cash machines and gas stations that may be nearby. Newer systems also receive and display information on traffic jams and suggest alternate routes. Color LCD screens on some navigation systems also double up as TV or DVD screens. A few systems go as far as integrating with mobile phones for hands free talking and SMS messaging.
The popular automobile navigation systems available today are: Etak, Garmin Street Pilot, Gizmondo, Hertz Neverlost, Navman iCN Series, Nextel TeleNav, Tom Tom and Pioneer.