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Who Really Invented GPS in Cars?

Discover the True Inventor of In-car GPS Navigation Systems

Who Really Invented GPS in Cars?

Who Invented GPS in Cars?

The History of GPS

GPS or Global Positioning System is a technology that helps you determine your location anywhere on earth using satellites. It's a product of the Cold War and was initially developed for military purposes by the United States government. The US Department of Defense launched the first GPS satellite in 1978, and the system became fully operational in the early 1990s. Today, GPS has become ubiquitous, with applications in everything from planes, trains, and automobiles to smartphones and fitness trackers.

Karlheinz Brandenburg

Karlheinz Brandenburg is a well-known German electrical engineer and the father of the MP3 file format. Apart from that, he also played a crucial role in developing GPS in cars. In the early 1990s, while working with the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft research institute in Germany, Brandenburg worked on a project called EUREKA (European Research and Development Effort on Karlsruhe). The goal was to create a navigation system for drivers that could provide accurate directions, information on traffic conditions, and nearby amenities like gas stations and restaurants.Brandenburg's team created a prototype that used signals from GPS satellites to determine the car's position and provide driving directions. This system was later improved upon and became the basis for many in-car navigation systems that are widely used today.

Ivan Getting and Bradford Parkinson

While Brandenburg played a significant role in developing GPS in cars, he was not the primary architect of the technology. That credit goes to Ivan Getting and Bradford Parkinson. Ivan Getting was an American engineer who previously worked for the military and played a crucial role in developing radar systems. Bradford Parkinson, on the other hand, was a US Air Force Colonel and an expert in satellite navigation.Together, Getting and Parkinson led the team responsible for developing the first GPS satellite in 1978. They navigated (pun intended) many technical and financial challenges to create a system that was accurate, reliable, and could be used by both military and civilian users.The development of GPS in cars was an incremental process that took decades and involved the contributions of numerous engineers and scientists. However, we can credit Ivan Getting and Bradford Parkinson, along with Karlheinz Brandenburg, for the technology we enjoy today.

Who Invented GPS in Cars?

The Global Positioning System (GPS) has revolutionized the way we navigate and travel. GPS technology has become a standard feature in most modern cars. But do you know who invented GPS in cars? Here is a brief history of GPS and the people behind it.

The Origins of GPS

The origins of GPS can be traced back to the Cold War era when the US Department of Defense (DoD) started working on navigation technology. The DoD created the first satellite-based navigation system called Transit in the 1960s. But Transit was not accurate enough for military use.

In the 1970s, the US DoD began developing a more advanced navigation system called Navstar. Navstar, also known as GPS, was designed to provide accurate location data for military purposes. GPS used a network of orbiting satellites to pinpoint a person's location on earth.

The Inventors of GPS

GPS was developed by a team of scientists and engineers led by Ivan Getting and Bradford Parkinson. Ivan Getting was a physicist who had served in World War II, while Bradford Parkinson was a US Air Force colonel and astronaut. They worked on GPS in the 1970s while at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the US Air Force.

Getting and Parkinson's team was tasked with developing a navigation system that could provide accurate location data for the military. They developed the technology and hardware required for GPS to work and oversaw its development from its initial concept to its final implementation.

How Does GPS Work in Cars?


GPS technology uses a network of orbiting satellites to pinpoint your location. There are at least 24 GPS satellites orbiting the earth at any given time. These satellites send signals to your GPS device, which then calculates your position on earth. Your GPS receiver needs at least four satellites to triangulate your position accurately.


Trilateration is a mathematical technique used by GPS to calculate a position on earth. This technique involves measuring distances between the GPS receiver and various satellites in orbit. GPS receivers can calculate the distance between the receiver and each satellite using the time it takes for the signal to travel between the two. GPS uses these time differences to determine how far the receiver is from a satellite, forming a sphere of possible locations for the GPS device.

The GPS receiver then eliminates any locations that don't match up with at least three other spheres from other satellites. Finally, the GPS receiver uses the information from the remaining spheres to determine the exact location of the GPS device.


Once your GPS device has calculated your position on earth, it uses that information to provide you with directions to your desired destination. GPS uses mapping software to provide turn-by-turn directions to the driver. The navigation software tracks the GPS device's location and provides real-time information on traffic, road closures, and the fastest route to the destination.

In Conclusion

GPS has revolutionized the way we navigate and travel. It has become an essential feature in modern cars, and we have Ivan Getting and Bradford Parkinson to thank for it. GPS technology is continually evolving, and we can expect new innovations in GPS navigation in the future.

Who Invented GPS in Cars?

GPS (Global Positioning System) is a satellite-based navigation system that provides information about the location, time, and speed of any object or vehicle. It was first developed by the US Department of Defense and became available for civilian use in the 1980s. Today, GPS technology has become an integral part of modern-day life, especially in the automotive industry, where it has transformed the way we drive. Let's explore more about the inventor of GPS and the advantages of GPS systems in cars.

Advantages of GPS in Cars


GPS technology has revolutionized automotive navigation in the past few decades. Having a GPS installed in your car makes navigation easier and more convenient. You no longer have to rely on old-fashioned paper maps or vague written directions to find your way. GPS systems offer turn-by-turn instructions that allow you to focus on driving and not worry about whether you're on the right track.Moreover, GPS systems are incredibly versatile and can help you locate various points of interest like restaurants, petrol stations, and hospitals. You can search for them on your GPS device and find the nearest one with ease. This convenience that comes with having a GPS in your car has made it difficult to imagine driving without one.


One of the most significant advantages of having GPS in your car is that it can help you stay safe on the road. It provides real-time traffic updates, which can help you plan your route accordingly. If there is an accident ahead, your GPS will reroute you to avoid that area, saving you time, stress, and, most importantly, the risk of an accident.Moreover, GPS systems provide drivers with blind-spot warnings, which can reduce the risk of accidents and increase lane-changing safety. This warning bell rings when you, as a driver, stray out of your lane and there's another vehicle in the blind spot.Similarly, when you're parked in the unfamiliar surroundings, and you can't remember where you parked your car exactly, the GPS can be your savior. Using the GPS, you can quickly locate your car and avoid being stranded in an unfamiliar place.


GPS technology can make traveling more efficient by allowing you to plan your route ahead of time. If you're someone who frequently travels to a particular place, you can save it as a favorite point on your GPS device. This feature lets you generate and save a route before traveling, which can save you a considerable amount of time and fuel costs.Furthermore, GPS systems help reduce driving time and, by extension, reduce fuel consumption. The systems can advise alternate routes based on traffic conditions, which can save time and fuel. This efficiency not only saves you money in the long run, but it also has a positive impact on the environment in terms of less fuel consumption and fewer carbon emissions.

The Inventor of GPS in Cars

GPS technology was first developed by the US Department of Defense (DoD) in the 1960s and was used primarily for military purposes. It was not until the 1980s that the technology became available for civilian use.Roger L. Easton, an American scientist working at the Naval Research Laboratory, was the primary developer of GPS. His contributions to GPS technology include the development of methods for making accurate time measurements from satellites and for computing precise satellite orbits with respect to time.As a team leader at the Naval Research Laboratory, Easton made significant contributions to developing GPS technology and helped to invent the equipment necessary to make GPS systems work. He was awarded the National Medal of Technology in 1986 for his contributions to GPS technology. Though he is often referred to as the inventor of GPS technology, Easton himself downplays his role and attributes the system's creation to a team effort.In conclusion, GPS technology has revolutionized automotive navigation, making driving safer, more efficient, and more convenient than ever before. While many individuals and organizations had a hand in developing the GPS, it was Roger L. Easton, working with a team of scientists at the Naval Research Laboratory, who played a vital role in bringing this innovative technology to life.

The Future of GPS in Cars

Improved Accuracy

GPS technology is continuously evolving, and we can expect to see improvements in accuracy and reliability in the future. One of the primary drivers for this is the development of new and more sophisticated satellite systems that can provide better coverage and pinpoint accuracy. A prime example of this is the European Union's Galileo system, which is expected to provide highly accurate positioning to within a few centimeters.

Another factor contributing to improved GPS accuracy is the use of advanced algorithms that can compensate for factors like ionospheric delays, multi-path, and atmospheric interference. This allows the GPS system to provide accurate positioning even in challenging environments, such as urban canyons or forests.

Autonomous Driving

As autonomous driving technology continues to advance, GPS will play an increasingly crucial role in guiding self-driving cars on the roads. In this scenario, GPS technology will complement other sensors and systems, such as cameras, LiDAR, and radar, to provide a precise, real-time view of the vehicle's surroundings. With this information, the car's onboard computer can make decisions about steering, acceleration, and braking, based on the road conditions and traffic situation.

In autonomous vehicles, GPS technology will also be used for other applications, such as predicting traffic flow patterns, locating charging stations, and optimizing routes.

Integration with IoT

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a growing network of connected devices, ranging from sensors and wearables to smart homes and cities. GPS technology is expected to play a critical role in integrating vehicles into this network, making them more intelligent, safe, and efficient.

For example, IoT-enabled cars will be able to communicate with other vehicles, infrastructure, and roadside equipment, such as traffic lights and toll booths. This communication will allow for more responsive and adaptive traffic management, including congestion reduction and accident avoidance.

IoT integration can also improve the in-car experience for users, with features such as real-time traffic updates, parking availability, and personalized route recommendations. Additionally, connected cars can share information about their performance and maintenance, allowing for predictive maintenance and better overall performance.


GPS technology has come a long way since its inception in the 1970s, driven by the need for accurate positioning in military and commercial applications. Today, GPS is a ubiquitous technology that is used in a wide range of industries and applications, including automotive navigation and location-based services.

In the future, we can expect to see continued improvements in GPS technology, with advancements in accuracy, reliability, and integration with other systems. With these innovations, GPS will continue to play an essential role in enabling the next generation of smart, connected, and safe vehicles.

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