What is the difference between GPS and GLONASS?

GPS systems are now familiar to most people – GLONASS (Global Navigation Satellite System) is a similar global positioning system developed by the former Soviet Union, which is now used for civilian GPS vehicle and fleet vehicle tracking, as well as the Russian military.

The US began developing GPS in 1973 to replace less efficient systems –  the technology involves satellites based in space that are able to predict weather patterns, as well as enabling GPS location devices used by the military. The GPS technology developed by the US is now available to everyone, with a few limitations which are still reserved for military operations.

GLONASS – The History

  • GLONASS was developed by the Russians in 1976 as a satellite navigation system using radio frequencies
  • GLONASS is still monitored by the Russian Federal Space Agency, but in 2007 Prime Minister Vladimir Putin authorised the civilian use of GLONASS, enabling vehicle tracking systems to be set up in Russia
  • The system currently has 22 satellites – 24 are required for total global coverage and this project is due for completion in 2011
  • The first GLONASS navigation tracking device for vehicles appeared in 2007, but there are still a limited number of GLONASS tracking devices available and the Russian government is working hard to promote the GLONASS system for civilian use – even to the extent of introducing a proposed levy on imported GPS systems
  • Russia’s Yo-mobil is the first car to support both GPS and GLONASS technology.
  • Russia is insisting that car makers based in the country manufacture vehicles with both GPS and GLONASS capability, including well known manufacturers such as Ford
  • In 2011 the Swedish satellite navigation company Swepos became the first to support GLONASS technology.

Other countries also have their own global position systems using satellite technology – China has developed the Compass satellite navigation system and the European Union is developing its Galileo satellite positioning system.

Some mobile providers and manufacturers of portable wireless gadgets already support both a GPS tracking chip and GLONASS – and most technology sold globally is soon expected to work with GLONASS alongside GPS.

To get more information on using GLONASS or GPS vehicle tracking systems, fill in the form at the top of this page.

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