Transportation and GPS

Smart infrastructure in highway, rail and aviation depend on GPS to improve safety, efficiency and environmental impact. Most of us rely on this infrastructure in some way every day, and it is a sector that is constantly being expanded and improved. Without GPS, many of these transportation advances would never have been possible.

GPS equipment is used in critical asset management activities for road and rail infrastructure —improving efficiency, lowering costs and enabling better decision making.

GPS modernization plays a critical role in moving the world's cargo from location to location, whether by land, air or sea. For trucking companies, GPS enables them to track shipments, determine efficient routes, and guarantee pickup and delivery times.

GPS is used by many public and private transportation systems to track buses and subway cars, both for internal system information and to enable waiting passengers to learn of expected arrival times.

The Federal Rail Administration's Positive Train Control mandate further drives the use of GPS to prevent train-to-train collisions, derailments, and casualties or injuries to railway workers.

GPS is used to help survey road and highway networks, identifying features such as entry and exit ramps, service stations, and emergency services that are either part of or adjacent to roadways. This helps reduce maintenance and service costs as well as improve safety. Promising strides are being made in developing GPS-aided driverless vehicles.

At sea, ships rely on the Automatic Identification System, a tracking system integrated with GPS to identify and locate vessels by electronically exchanging information with other nearby boats. The technology is critical to navigation, but also to waterway traffic management around busy ports and areas as well as to port security.

Use of GPS and the mapping and navigation technologies which depend on it have produced extraordinary benefits for consumers. A recent study commissioned by Google found that these technologies have reduced travel time by over 1.1 billion hours per year worldwide by getting people to their destinations more efficiently. The economic value of this time saving is $5 billion in the U.S. alone and $17 billion per year worldwide. In addition, the study estimated that more efficient travel reduced global fuel consumption by nearly 1 billion gallons, creating an additional $4.8 billion in fuel savings each year, and a corresponding reduction in carbon emissions and air pollution.

In aviation, GPS has become the preferred method of navigation for all types of civilian aircraft, from crop dusters to jumbo jets and from business helicopters to recreational planes. More information on GPS in aviation is available here and the Federal Aviation Administration's Next Generation Air Transportation System, "NextGen," is available here.