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Advantages and Disadvantages of Global Positioning System (GPS)

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Technology
Wordcount: 1884 words Published: 19th Jul 2021

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The Global Positioning System (GPS) is a satellite-based positioning system which is owned by United States government and by Air Force of United States. The fundamental technique of GPS is to amount the ranges between the receiver and at the same time ascertain observed satellites. The positions of the satellites are forecasted and broadcasted alongside the GPS signal to the user. Through the many identified positions (of the satellites) and the measured distances between the receiver and the satellites, the position of the receiver can be determined. The difference in position, which can be also determined in respect to time, is then the velocity of the receiver.

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The first global positioning system receivers were very simple and basic. They used monochrome screens and only relayed basic information like latitude and longitude. Over the years, the next generation brought more user-friendly map-based location devices with color screens. Furthermore, the receiver and other component prices also decreased over time, making the use of GPS more mainstream in devices such as smartphones. GPS also operates independently which made it accessible by anyone and gave it the ability to work freely with other GPS receivers. Today, it provides civil, military, and commercial users around the world with crucial information like speed, elevation and geolocation.

The system has revolutionized today’s technology by becoming more interactive, effective and useful in multiple industries. Our project on this system will explore the basic principles of the GPS, the various hardware that makes it work and explore, in-depth, the operation of the system. Including theoretical calculations for positioning, speed, bearing and distance to destination.

Advantages of GPS

Following are the advantages of GPS:

  • The GPS signal is available worldwide. Therefore, users will not be deprived of it anywhere

  • GPS can be used anywhere in the world, it is powered by world satellites, so it can be accessed anywhere, a solid tracking system and a GPS receiver are all you need.

  • The GPS system gets calibrated by its own and hence it is easy to be used by anyone.

  • It provides users with information based on location in real time. This is helpful in different applications such as mapping (used in cars), location (geocaching), analysis of performance (used in sports), etc. Example: Application for Google Earth.

Disadvantages of GPS

Following are the disadvantages of GPS:

  • The GPS chip is hungry for power and that drains the battery in 8 to 12 hours. This requires replacement or recharge of the battery quite frequently.

  • GPS does not penetrate solid walls or structures. It is also affected by large constructions or structures. This means that users can not use GPS indoors or underwater or in dense tree regions or in underground stores or places, etc.

  • The accuracy of GPS depends on sufficient signal quality received. The GPS signal is affected by the atmosphere (i.e. multipath) Electromagnetic interference, ionosphere etc. This results in an error in the GPS signal of about 5 to 10 meters. However, different receivers have different levels of accuracy.

  • it relies entirely on receiving radio satellite signals, enabling EMP, nuclear weapons, radio interference, and failed satellites to affect its operation.

  • Another problem is that the position can occasionally be significantly in error, especially when the number of satellites is limited. Satellites use atomic clocks and are very precise, but sometimes there are discrepancies and therefore time measurement errors. The satellites must maintain their predefined orbital positions, but the gravitational pulls (earth, moon, sun) occur.


As mentioned before, over the years, the GPS technology has become more user-friendly, intuitive and cheaper to operate. The receiver and other component prices have decreased over time, making the use of GPS more mainstream in devices such as smartphones. Furthermore, the independent operation of GPS accessible by anyone and gave it the ability to work freely with other GPS receivers. Today, it provides civil, military, and commercial users around the world with crucial information like speed, elevation and geolocation.

The accuracy for GPS receivers used in civilian handheld receivers is usually around ± 5 meters. However, more highly advanced GPS receivers that are also costlier provide positions accurate to ±1cm, These receivers have revolutionized lots of industries, where highly accurate positioning is used for so many different tasks

 The role of GPS in aviation is one of the most important ones. It not only helps with real time navigation but also provides the aircrafts with a host of other information including speed and elevation. Furthermore, GPS enables the airline operations center to select the safest, fastest and most-fuel efficient routes to the destination and also enable them to track if the flight is on course to the pre-determined route. 

 Captains use high accuracy GPS to navigate their vessels through the vast oceans, unfamiliar harbors and canals. This also prevents them from running aground or hitting obstacles. Similarly, like in all the other industries, GPS also assists in planning of the route helping captains and navigation controllers to map the safest, fastest and most cost-efficient route.


GPS receivers in farming help the farmers to map their field and plantations. It ensures that the seeds aren’t replanted on same areas and helps them return to the same position on the field to plant in the future. It also helps farmers keep farming under conditions of low visibility such as fog and darkness, as each piece of machinery is guided by its GPS position rather than visual references. Additionally, mapping soil sample locations which allows farmers to keep track of the most fertile areas is done by using high accuracy GPS.


Scientists use GPS technology to conduct a large vary of experiments and analysis, ranging from biology to physics to earth sciences. GPS collars or “tags” can now be fitted on animals which repeatedly record the animal’s whereabouts and communicates the data via the satellite system back to the researchers. This provides them with additional elaborated data concerning the animal’s movements while not having to relocate specific animals. GPS technology is also used by earth scientists to conduct a wide range of research on physical land features such as mountainy areas and along fault lines. GPS allows them to study not only the speed and direction of movement but also help them to understand how landscapes change over time.


The GPS system was originally developed by the United States Department of Defense for use by the US military but was later made available for public use. GPS in the military is now very essential. Many countries around the world like India and China are launching their own GPS satellites to gain combat advantage. The systems allow the militaries to track their personnel, vehicles and assets. Moreover, GPS is also crucial in missile technology to provide the warheads with tracking and guidance to various targets always of the day and in all weather conditions. Countries like the USA also use sophisticated high accuracy GPS to map out and plan their asset layout across their field in a strategic way which is of huge strategic advantage.

Market Share

The global GPS market is expected to increase by 10.0% year – on – year during the forecast period. Global positioning system (GPS) technology has advanced its applications in many industries and new applications are being developed due to its significant advantages.

Few such applications such as determining location are relatively simple whereas some are complicated blends of GPS with communications and different technologies. In recent years, companies building GPS satellites and instrumentation have seen rapid growth in industrial and commercial GPS applications. It is expected that technological advances in this sector will have a positive impact on the market in the following years.

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One of the main factors contributing to growth is the hyperbolic use of the technology among smartphone users. The market has jointly observed the progress of multifunctional GPS over the last few years. However, the lack of precision in GPS data presents a major challenge for the industry during the forecast period. The benefits of GPS coupled with its ability for wireless connectivity and low power consumption, is also anticipated to drive market demand over the forecast period. However, factors like its high price of operation might hamper its market progress. 


The global positioning system is a satellite navigation system consisting of a minimum of 24 satellites. GPS operates 24 hours a day in any weather, anywhere in the world, without subscription fees or setup fees. The United States Defense Department initially placed the satellites in orbit for military use, but in the 1980s they were made available for civilian use.

Over the past two decades, global positioning system (GPS) technology has been rapidly developed and used for various applications in different industries. At present, the GPS still has limits to accurate measurement and the signal does not penetrate solid walls or structures. The application of GPS is however promising as a navigation, survey and information tool because it can measure dynamic and static displacements in real time, whereas the conventional monitoring system using other sensors such as accelerometers cannot measure static and quasi-static displacements. In addition, rapid advances in GPS devices and algorithms can mitigate erroneous GPS data sources, and integrated systems using GPS receivers with additional sensors can provide accurate measurements.


  • XU, GUOCHANG XU YAN. GPS: Theory, Algorithms and Applications. SPRINGER, 2018.
  • “GPS.Gov: Applications”. Gps.Gov, 2018, https://www.gps.gov/applications/. Accessed 7 Dec 2018.
  • “Civilian Applications Of GPS | Locata”. Locata.Com, 2018, http://www.locata.com/applications-of-gps/civilian-applications/. Accessed 7 Dec 2018.
  • “GPS Market Size Worth $146.4 Billion By 2025 | CAGR: 18.4%”. Grandviewresearch.Com, 2018, https://www.grandviewresearch.com/press-release/global-positioning-systems-gps-market-analysis. Accessed 7 Dec 2018.


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