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What is the GPS module and technology

Written by Deepika Gupta

Introduction: GPS module(Global Positioning System)

GPS stands for Global Positioning System by which anyone can obtain the current position information by living anywhere in the world accordingly. It is a worldwide radio-navigation system formed with a constellation of 24 satellites and their ground stations relatively.

It uses these “man-made stars” as reference points to measure the accurate position information in a matter of meters. Receivers used in GPS modules named GPS receivers make the technology possible and accessible virtually everywhere in the world.


How GPS module Works

The GPS (Global Positioning System) mainly provides 24 medium earth orbit satellites that are developed by the US Department of Defense and now managed by the US Air Force 50th Space Wing relatively. Each satellite used in the GPS module transmits some high range of microwave signals directly to the earth.

Due to that receivers used in the GPS falls on the earth with signals to determine their speed, locations, direction, and time. In the GPS receiver, there are some line-of-sight with satellites to calculate its current position with the help of signals by using four or more than four GPS satellites. Four satellites are needed because the whole process needs a very accurate local time to complete tasks for the relevant device to determine its time as well as position information of the GPS module accordingly.

These signals are then processed by the GPS receiver to calculate its altitude, latitude/longitude, speed, and time respectively. For fleet management systems, this type of data is generally transmitted over a wireless network to a server at high speed. The specific server then receives the data and uses it to offer the end-user with respective locations of their devices specifically.

History of GPS

GPS module is just like similar to radar technology, which was developed during the time of WWII. In the year 1957, A group of scientists monitoring Sputnik which is the first-ever space vehicle launched by the Soviet Union found that they could determine the satellite’s accurate location due to unwaved radio signals approached at a specific point and would become weaker in only one attempt by the Doppler effect.

They generally used this idea to elaborate that signals with the help of satellites could be measurement to know about the exact location of a receiver lies on earth. In the next 2 decades, US scientists experimented with different types of satellite systems in aircraft, submarines, and missiles objects.


Lastly, in the year 1978, the first GPS module satellite was launched at somehow, with the remaining to follow throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s years respectively. After some time the US people also used the GPS module as a defense tool for emergency cases.

It helped very much to the U.S. government to find out the exact positions of enemy nuclear warheads and nuclear test explosions that were in the category of any existing treaties. Since 1983, the global positioning system(GPS module) was only used by the US country.

Although, in the year 1983, the Soviet government accidentally shot down Korean Airlines Flight 007. Due to that, the President of Ronald Reagan made this GPS module available for all civilians.

However, the US country provides a protocol called Selective Availability (SA) which gave the other government the power to reduce the accuracy of the GPS module or disable for non-military users also at any time and anywhere according to their need. This order limited the enemies to use this device to attack the US country. The updated version of the global positioning system(GPS module) was finally completed in the year 1993.

In the year 2000, Selective Availability was eliminated by President Bill Clinton, making the GPS module available for all civilian users across the world at all times. After the success of GPS module technology, GLONASS (a subsystem of GPS) was also developed by the Soviet government, but its was fell in the 1990s due to some issues and the government collapsed it. As of the year 2008, The European Union launch of next version of GPS (Galileo) during the next 10 years without any error. Finally, China and India are free to develop their updated versions of space-based navigation systems accordingly.


Now, the GPS module system has since become a widely used navigation aid worldwide specifically. It has been used for many purposes including map-making, asset tracking, land surveying, and many other operations as you want.

What are the three segments/elements of the GPS module?

GPS module is made up of three different components or elements which are also called segments, that work together to provide location information at the right time.



These three segments of GPS module are the following:

  1. Space segment (GPS satellites)
  2. Control segment (Ground control stations)
  3. User segment (GPS receivers)
  1. Space segment (GPS satellites)

A total number of GPS module satellites are directly deployed on six orbits all over the earth at the altitude of a minimum of 20,000 km (four GPS satellites per one orbit) and move across the earth at every 12-hour-intervals.

  1. Control segment (Ground control stations)

Ground control stations mainly play roles of monitoring, controlling, and maintaining GPS satellite orbit to ensure that the main deviation of the satellites from the situated orbit with GPS module timing is within the level of the whole process. These monitoring stations in the world, including North and South America, Asia, Europe, Africa, and Australia.

  1. User segment (GPS receivers)

User types of equipment in GPS receivers and transmitters are watches, smartphones, and telematics devices respectively.

Uses of GPS module

GPS module is a powerful technology used widely in every type of businesses and organizations in many different industries. Almost  Surveyors, pilots, boat captains, scientists, first responders, and workers in the mining and agriculture field, are some of the people who use the GPS module and its technology daily.

The first uses GPS module information for preparing accurate surveys and maps, taking some time measurements, tracking its position or location, and for navigation accordingly. Although, the GPS module works at all times but changes its behavior according to weather conditions.

There are five main uses of GPS which are the following:

  • Used for Determining a position or location of a device.
  • Used for Navigation while the change from one location to another.
  • Used for Tracking means Monitoring object or its movement in minimum time.
  • Used for Creating maps of the world.
  • Used for Making all possible to take accurate time measurements of the GPS module.

Real Life Examples of GPS module

Some real-life examples of GPS module are the  following

  1. Emergency Response
  2. Entertainment
  3. Health and fitness
  4. Transportation


  1. Emergency Response:

In any emergency case or natural disaster, a GPS module is used for mapping, predicting the weather, and keeping track of emergency personnel accordingly. In Europe and Russia country, the eCall regulation relies on specific GLONASS technology which is an alternative of GPS system and forward data immediately to emergency services in the case of any vehicle crash, without wasting time.

  1. Entertainment:

GPS system can also be used in games and activities like Pokémon Go and Geocaching.

  1. Health and fitness:

Some Smartwatches and wearable technology can easily track fitness activity against a similar demographic relatively.

  1. Transportation:

Some Logistics companies also implement a specific type of telematics systems to improve their driver productivity and safety accordingly. A truck tracker can be used to support fuel efficiency, route optimization, driver safety, and compliance respectively.

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Deepika Gupta

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