History of GPS and its role in fleet management


History of GPS and its role in fleet management

Out of all the inventions of the last century, GPS is amongst the most innovative ones. The first satellite, Sputnik I, was launched by the Soviet Union in 1957 to study earth from space. It was the era of the Cold War between the USA and Russia, and the former took it as a security threat. Therefore, the USA also started to work on satellite technology to compete with their rival.

GPS technology has evolved a lot over the years and has found many applications. It has become an integral part of the telematics industry. Modern fleet management systems use it to track and monitor vehicles.

In this blog, we will look into GPS history and its role in fleet management.

The Timeline of GPS Evolution:

• The Soviet Union launched the first satellite, Sputnik I, in 1957. 

• The U.S. Navy built Transit Satellite System to track submarines in 1959.

• The Aerospace Corporation completed a military study in 1969 that proved to be the groundwork for modern GPS technology.

• U.S. launched the first NAVSTAR test satellite in 1974.

• U.S. started the launch of 11 test satellites for Block I GPS program in 1978.

• In 1983, U.S. announced to make GPS technology available for civilian use. This decision was made after a Korean Air Lines’ plane crash. Its vision was to enhance air traffic navigation and safety.

• The U.S. government started signing contracts with private companies to develop portable GPS receivers in 1985.

• In 1989, a company named Magellan introduced the first hand-held GPS device called NAV 1000. This year, U.S. air forces also launched the first fully functional satellite for the Block II program.

• U.S. department introduced the concept of ‘Selective Availability’ of GPS technology in 1990. This concept was to decrease the GPS accuracy for non-military use due to the fear of adversaries.

• Despite limited functionality, the U.S. used GPS as an essential tool in its operations during the Gulf War in 1991.

• In 1995, the U.S. military declared full operational capability (FOC) for all of its 24 satellites. 

• In 1998, the U.S. Vice President Al Gore announced a plan for launching GPS III satellites. The primary purpose behind it was to send two added signals for civilian and aviation use.

• In 1999, Benefon, a mobile phone company, launched the first-ever commercial GPS phone.

• In 2000, the U.S. decided to end the ‘Selective Availability’ to improve the commercial scope of GPS. 

• In 2004, Qualcomm, a U.S. based electronic firm, successfully tested the live GPS on a mobile phone. It allowed the combination of cellular and GPS signals for more accurate location detection. 

• In 2005, the first satellite from the Block IIR was launched, providing a dedicated GPS channel for civilian use. 

• In 2010, the U.S. launched the first satellite from the Block IIF. It was a part of the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV). 

• The last satellite from Block IIF was launched in 2016, ending the Block II program that lasted for 17 years (1989-2016). 

• In 2018, the U.S. Air Force launched the first-ever GPS III satellite successfully. 

• In 2019, the second GPS III satellite was launched on a SpaceX Falcon9. 

• In 2020, the U.S. Space Force delayed the third GPS III satellite launch due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read Also: How Does A GPS Tracking System Work?

Role of GPS in Fleet Management: 

The invention of GPS technology brought a revolution to the telematics industry. It provides the tailor-made solution to businesses to monitor their fleets efficiently. There is no modern fleet management system that does not have the option of live GPS tracking. It facilitates fleet businesses in various ways, and some of them are given below:

Enhances Driver’s Efficiency:

With GPS tracking, drivers are aware that they are ‘’being watched’’. It compels them to stay on the designated routes during trips. With GPS live tracking, the managers can also allocate tasks amongst drivers according to their location. In addition to that, they can guide drivers to take shorter and clearer paths through route optimization. All of these factors help in improving driver’s efficiency and productivity. 

Ensures Strict Monitoring:

The fleet management systems with GPS tracking provide the managers with the drivers’ exact location in real-time. It helps them in ensuring that everyone is following the designated path. In case of deviation, the manager can contact the driver immediately for inquiry. By using the monthly GPS data, the managers can gauge the performance of the drivers. 

Decreases Expense:

With live GPS tracking, the drivers take the shortest route to the destination. It decreases the fuel expense of the fleet. In addition to that, strict monitoring ensures efficient driving. It causes less wear and tear in the vehicles resulting in lesser maintenance charges.  GPS technology has become an integral component of fleet management systems. All the features of the monitoring solutions work around GPS tracking. More innovations are happening in this technology, and a new era of GPS satellites is about to begin. These advancements will ensure more accurate location tracking and will facilitate operations of telematics even more. 

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