This improved when automakers started demanding data in standardized formats. Suppliers also devised techniques that let them alter only the information that changed from previous generations, making updates dramatically simpler. Suppliers also started compressing data, making it much easier to store files and perform searches. Modern navigation systems use the standardized NDS (Navigation Data Standard) format, which is being defined by the NDS Association, an alliance of car manufacturers, application/compiler developers, map and service providers. Some known partners are the BMW Group, Volkswagen, Panasonic, Alpine and Elektrobit.
These advances in compression and data storage prompted automakers to update systems more regularly. Many now update systems quarterly, up from once or twice a year. It’s expected that this frequency will increase, possibly to monthly map updates.
Navigation now gets position information from satellites every second or so. Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) cover the globe, giving drivers precise location about their whereabouts. The Global Positioning System launched by the U.S. and the Russian GLONASS system were the two pioneering satellite constellations. The European Union has launched a number of its Galileo satellites, with plans for the constellation to be in full operation by the end of the decade. China and India are also moving forward with their own global satellite networks.
The widespread availability of free global positioning information marks quite a change from the early days of navigation, when sextants and other visual tools were used to navigate by the stars. But one thing hasn’t changed. As in those days, today’s GPS systems