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Thread: Satellite radio meets GPS

  1. #1
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Satellite radio meets GPS

    Satellite radio meets GPS - to keep you from getting stuck in traffic
    By Eric Peters
    for Immediate release

    You used to need a helicopter "spotter" to warn you of heavy traffic (or an accident) along your planned route. Failing that, you crossed your fingers -- and hoped for the best.

    Even with a GPS-based satellite navigation system, it's hard to know what conditions might be like up ahead. That's because the information contained on the GPS system's map CD (or DVD) is "static" -- an electronically/digitally encoded grid layout of the area's roads, as they existed when the CD/DVD was made. The problem is, you're driving on those roads right now -- and conditions may have changed dramatically.

    Though definitely helpful, the biggest weakness of GPS navigation systems is that they don't provide up-to-the-minute "real time" information about such things as construction activity, the ebb and flow of traffic -- let alone whether a big rig just overturned and shut down the entire road. And so you drive along in blissful ignorance -- turning left, turning right as indicated by the arrows and voice prompts -- right into a gridlocked debacle with no way out.

    XM Satellite radio came up with a fix. It's called NavTraffic -- and it continuously transmits real-time data about traffic and road conditions directly to your vehicle's GPS navigation system. The data is culled from police and emergency services wire traffic, road sensors and traffic cameras. It is collected continuously, 24-7 -- and updates are transmitted to subscribers over the satellite radio, just like any other channel. (Only the "feed" is silent and the communication is directly between the transmitter and your vehicle's GPS system. )

    Accidents and other sudden blockages are indicated on your screen by cautionary icons while a colored overlay indicates how smoothly (or not) traffic is flowing along your currently chosen route.

    Using this info, your route can be adjusted as necessary to avoid problems up ahead --before you get to them. NavTraffic can also calculate your ETA to destination, updating it as conditions change. Weather info/updates can be added as well -- including severe weather storm tracking with wind speed and direction (at surface and altitude, just like the data used in civil/commercial aviation).

    While other sources (including XM's primary competitor, Sirius) offer audio traffic updates and alerts, only XM's system actually works with the in-car GPS unit.

    In addition to helping drivers lucky enough to have this set-up steer clear of traffic logjams, XM NavTraffic has the potential to reduce gridlock on a much larger scale. If even a third of the traffic that now routinely piles onto already choked routes took an alternate route, the gridlocked routes would be less severely taxed than they are at present, traffic would flow more freely -- and we'd waste less fuel idling in stop-and-go traffic. (Government sources estimate some 2 billion gallons of fuel are burned up by cars idling in traffic jams.)

    XM Navtraffic is available nationwide, in 31 major market areas (including New York, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Detroit, San Francisco/Oakland and LA) as well as Cleveland, Denver-Boulder, Providence-Warwick-Pawtucket, Sacramento, San Antonio and Wilmington, DE. The cost is nominal -- $3.99 per month in addition to the standard $12.95 per month XM Radio subscription. (Buyers can also choose to receive just the NavTraffic service -- without the other XM programming -- for a flat monthly rate of $9.95.)

    The system is currently available as a factory-installed feature in the '06 Acura RL and '07 RDX -- as well as the '06 Cadillac CTS. XM has announced that Infiniti will be the next OEM to offer this feature in selected '07 model year vehicles.

    Aftermarket GPS set-ups compatible with NavTraffic are also available from Garmin (including the portable 2730 "Street Pilot" and 7000 series), Pioneer and Alpine.

    For more info about XM NavTraffic, see www.XMNavTraffic.com.

    END

  2. #2
    JohnB
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    Re: Satellite radio meets GPS

    Sounds good... on paper. Unless they have a very quick way of updating that information it could be useless.

  3. #3
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: Satellite radio meets GPS

    I'll tell you one thing - up here in the sticks/mountains, satellite radio cuts out frequently to the point of being really annoying... I have noticed this in literally dozens of makes/models, and it doesn'tmatter whether it's XM or Sirius ....maybe not an issue for flatlanders and city boys, though!

  4. #4
    JohnB
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    Re: Satellite radio meets GPS

    Same thing in "urban canyons" where tall buildings block the sats. Also tree follieage blocks those frequencies.

  5. #5
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: Satellite radio meets GPS

    ..then it's not just us hillbillys!

    And it means that satellite radio is as much a PITAS as a cell phone!

  6. #6
    JohnB
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    Re: Satellite radio meets GPS

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric
    ..then it's not just us hillbillys!

    And it means that satellite radio is as much a PITAS as a cell phone!
    Anything that blocks the signal will cause fade outs.
    A couple of years ago while driving through one of the redwood forests my GPS was going nuts, sometimes telling me that I was in the middle of the Sahara desert.

  7. #7
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: Satellite radio meets GPS

    Yep - but it is irritating, esp. when you are trying to listen to an interview/talk show... I don't think I'd buy it for myself for just that reason...

  8. #8
    JohnB
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    Re: Satellite radio meets GPS

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric
    Yep - but it is irritating, esp. when you are trying to listen to an interview/talk show... I don't think I'd buy it for myself for just that reason...
    And what's your alternative? It all depends on antenna placement and angle of view. Remember that the bird's at one fixed location in orbit and you need to have a clear view to that spot. Think of the satellite as a light bulb. Anything in the way will cast a shadow.

  9. #9
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: Satellite radio meets GPS

    Tapes and CDs!

    I'm a quasi-Luddite, don't foget!

  10. #10
    DennisWG
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    Re: Satellite radio meets GPS

    Satellite radio works very well out in the Great plains like,say, South Dakota where you see one car every few hours on the highway. I never turn it on in town (pop. 200,000) because the interference from trees or buildings makes it skip a lot.

  11. #11
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: Satellite radio meets GPS

    Quote Originally Posted by DennisWG
    Satellite radio works very well out in the Great plains like,say, South Dakota where you see one car every few hours on the highway. I never turn it on in town (pop. 200,000) because the interference from trees or buildings makes it skip a lot.
    I bet!

    Here, just riding underneath a large tree canopy will sometimes cut the signal off... makes it more trouble than it's worth for me, sorta like cell phones and Tivo!

  12. #12
    JohnB
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    Re: Satellite radio meets GPS

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric
    Quote Originally Posted by DennisWG
    Satellite radio works very well out in the Great plains like,say, South Dakota where you see one car every few hours on the highway. I never turn it on in town (pop. 200,000) because the interference from trees or buildings makes it skip a lot.
    I bet!

    Here, just riding underneath a large tree canopy will sometimes cut the signal off... makes it more trouble than it's worth for me, sorta like cell phones and Tivo!
    At that frequency almost anything will block the signal. That's why RADAR works so well in that spectrum. The higher (microwave) frequencies are needed due to antenna size and propagation patterns.

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