Sunday, September 23, 2007

What is a GPS System?

GPS stands for “Global Positioning System.” A GPS is a Global Navigation Satellite System that uses a number of satellites to send transmission data from earth, to the satellite, and back again.

A Global Positioning System requires the use of a receiver that enables the system to determine elements such as location, time, direction, and speed.

Today, it is common to see cars that have GPS systems included, however you may be surprised to discover that the GPS system was designed and developed by the United States Department of Defense. Originally, the system was referred to as the Navstar GPS, but today people simply refer to it as a GPS.

In addition to all of the military uses for a GPS system, civilians have found it to be an incredible navigational tool that is conductive for every day life.

If your car is stolen, you can track where it has been taken with GPS. You can program in your point of departure and destination and your GPS will give you complete directions for a trip. It can tell you how long your trip will take and the exact route you should take.

The GPS system is comprised of twenty-four satellites that circle the earth twice per day. The receiver contacts the satellite and in turn, can return a user’s exact location, including the time that the data was received from the satellite.

What is fascinating to note, is that when the satellite receives the information regarding the user’s location, it determines where the person is located, based on the amount of time it takes for the satellite to obtain the information from the receiver. This is a process known as triangulation.

Since there are twenty-four satellites in orbit, the GPS system doesn’t just rely on the information obtained from one. It uses several more satellites to create a latitude and longitude reading. Then, the system begins to add all of the coordinates and information together and creates an electronic map.

Today’s GPS systems are extremely accurate. The twenty-four satellites are constantly in motion, circling the earth. They have been estimated to travel at speeds of 7,000 miles per hour. They receive information by transmitting signals. The signals are low radio frequencies on channels L1 and L2.

However, although today’s GPS systems are far superior to when they were first in operation, back in 1978, there are still factors that can cause faulty signals and data.

Some of the most common factors that can affect the signal and its accuracy include delays in the Ionosphere and Troposphere, Signal multipaths, Clock errors in the receivers, Errors in Orbit, The number of Satellites that are visible, and a weak satellite signal.

The uses of a GPS system are vast, and they have helped increase and enhance safety for our citizens. In addition, the GPS system is a phenomenal navigational tool that is vital to every traveler.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Future Ford Focus?

Ford will unveil the Kuga, a small four-wheel-drive crossover based on the European market Focus C-Max, at the upcoming Frankfurt motor show.

Ford says Kuga balances style with technology and promises on-road dynamics coupled with off-road ability. The car goes on sale in Europe in early 2008.

The Kuga will be previewed alongside the new Ford Verve Concept small car that shows the company’s plan for the next Fiesta.

Kuga’s styling is based on the kinetic design shown in the iosis X concept car revealed at the 2006 Paris Motor Show, said John Fleming, the president and CEO, Ford of Europe. Strength and athleticism in the design are key attributes of the kinetic philosophy, highlighted in Kuga with bold graphics such as the trapezoidal front grills, rising belt-line and kick-up of the rear window graphic and the dramatic swept back headlamp shapes.

The rear-end design of Kuga also incorporates the graphic elements of “kinetic design” such as the high mounted tail lamps, facetted rear glass and sculptured rear bumper. The rear bumper integrates the tailpipes into the contours of the diffuser.

For production, Ford adjusted the Kuga’s coupĂ©-like roof profile from the iosis X Concept to a slightly higher silhouette to accommodate five people.

“Kuga offers a rare blend of a wagon and SUV features together with coupĂ©-like sporting qualities,” said Stephen Odell, vice president for Marketing, Sales and Service, Ford of Europe.

Ford said one of the challenges of the Kuga development team was to give the vehicle Ford’s driving quality while at the same time delivering off-road ability. For this reason, according to Ford, the Kuga will be available with an intelligent four-wheel-drive system which contributes to normal road use and helps give the vehicle an almost sporty dynamic ability. The fact that the Kuga will also be available as a front-wheel-drive only version emphasizes the crossover concept of the vehicle.

Kuga is powered by a 2.0-liter, 136-hp, common-rail diesel engine mated to a six-speed manual transmission. Further details of the Kuga powertrain will be released closer to launch in early 2008.

The interior of the new Ford Kuga has a spacious feel—not because of the large panoramic glass roof fitted to the preview model and available as an option in production. The design of the instrument panel and center stack converge into a voluminous center console for maximum accessible storage. These interior components contribute to a comfortable surrounding for the driver and front seat passenger. The high seat and shoulder line position of the doors offers the opportunity for maximum glazed areas to give a light and airy environment for passengers and provides the driver a commanding view of their surroundings.

The materials chosen for Kuga’s interior also demonstrate the close links to the iosis X Concept. In Kuga we see again technical materials, fine leathers and striking orange piping. The Ebony interior is set off by a center console and details in the door which also feature the piano-white finish from iosis X. The luggage compartment is accessed via a split tailgate. All these elements together show how Ford intends to enable Kuga customers in the future to personalize their vehicle.

A hint of the technology coming in Kuga is seen in the new Blaupunkt navigation system which incorporates a 7- color display to show images from a rearview camera incorporated into the tailgate. This new feature, to aid reversing maneuvers, will find its way to the production version of the Kuga.