Holding Icon What Is GPS?

Sat navs are often called GPS systems because they use the Global Positioning Satellites (GPS) that orbit the earth. Find out more about what GPS is with this guide from Halfords.

GPS was originally created as a military application by the US Department of Defence, but now has a huge range of everyday uses, including in car sat navs, aircraft navigation, and even sports.

Read on to discover more about this amazing technology, including some interesting facts that you may not have known about your GPS system.

What Is GPS?

How GPS Works

There are 24 GPS satellites that are in constant orbit around the planet, transmitting a signal down to Earth. A GPS receiver - such as the sat nav unit in your car - uses this signal to calculate its location using longitude, latitude and altitude.

This is then laid over a digital road map to show your driving position to within a few metres. Once this has been determined, sat navs can also work out other information such as the easiest route between any two points on the map, your speed, direction, estimated arrival time, and the distance to your destination.

What Is GPS Used For?

What is GPS used for

GPS has a wide variety of uses on land, in the air, and at sea. It's used by drivers, pilots, sailors, and even by sportspeople and adventurers. As well as the car sat navs that have now become commonplace, there are also:

Interesting GPS Facts

  • GPS satellites orbit the earth around 12,000 miles above us.
  • Travelling at speeds of around 7,000 miles per hour, they orbit the whole planet twice in less than a day.
  • They are powered by solar energy but have batteries for back-up in the event of a solar eclipse.

Sat Nav & GPS at Halfords

At Halfords we offer a wide range of sat navs and sports GPS systems. What's more, our fully trained advisors can help you understand the features and benefits of each, with a free demo and set-up available on all sat navs in-store.

You can reserve sat navs online for collection from your local Halfords, or buy online for delivery if you prefer. If you choose to buy online you can still take advantage of the free set-up and demo - simply keep your proof of purchase and contact your local store.