Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Navigation System and Maps

We all use navigation for finding routes, but have you ever thought that how maps are made. A few decades back, it was very difficult to make maps. The first maps were made by hand or by painting on paper. It was very difficult to draw, exactly the same map again and again. So, early maps varied in quality. The quality of the maps used to be very low. The drawing of map used to take a lot of time and energy and hence, there weren’t many maps produced.

After a few years, a special term ‘Cartographer’ was used. A cartographer is a person who creates maps, whether they’re of the world, the local bus routes, or buried pirate treasure. It comes to us from the Latin word charta-, which means “tablet or leaf of paper,” and the Greek word graphein, meaning to write or draw.

Over time, improvements in tools and technology helped cartographers refine their skills and produce better maps. Some of the tools, which helped the cartographers to produce high quality and accuracy maps are:

Magnetic Compass:  A magnetic compass is a compass containing a magnetic needle pivoted in a horizontal plane, which indicates the direction of magnetic north at points on the earth's surface

Printers: The printers helped the cartographers to print maps. Any number of maps, could be printed with good quality using high-end printers.

Computers and scanners: The computers and scanners allow the maps to be scanned and uploaded on different servers. These maps could be easily seen by anyone, over an internet connection. These maps are further used for navigation purpose also.

So, how these maps are scanned and made for use. The maps are scanned using high-end scanners. The map is divided into different layers. The most important is the base layer, on the top of which there is a layer for each object. The objects refer to roads, rivers, houses etc. Then, a database is created in a query language software which contains two spatial columns. These spatial columns contain X and Y co-ordinates for a particular layer.

For example, if you are viewing the map of India, the base layer would be the Indian map which would be in the background. On, the top of the base layer you can turn on or off the other layers. Suppose, you want to see the Indian map with only the roads, you can turn on just the base layer and the road layer.

For navigation, the GPS (Global Positioning System) device gets your location. With respect to your location, the map is downloaded. As you move, you change your position and that position is sent in the form of co-ordinates by the GPS.

This is how, the navigation system works.

This blog post is inspired by the blogging marathon hosted on IndiBlogger for the launch of the #Fantastico Zica from Tata Motors. You can apply for a test drive of the hatchback Zica today.

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