FROM CHINESE CHARIOTS TO SMART CARS: 2,000 YEARS OF VEHICULAR NAVIGATION

Robert L. French

Peer Reviewed

Abstract: The odometer and differential odometer date back approximately 2,000 years, perhaps 1,000 years before the magnetic compass appeared. Gyroscopic devices were first described in the mid-1800s. Automatic mechanical route guides, which began appearing around 1910, introduced the concept of real-time turn-by-turn route guidance to early automobile drivers. The first vehicular navigation system to incorporate electronics was developed during World War II. A research project of the late 1960s established concepts for dynamic route guidance based on real-time traffic conditions. Satellite positioning and digitized road maps also originated in the 1960s. Map-matching software for reconciling measured vehicle paths with digitized road maps to remove position errors was invented in 1970. Thus the basic technologies were already in place when the microprocessor emerged in the 1970s to facilitate their integration in the sophisticated automobile navigation and route guidance systems that finally reached the market in the late 1980s. This paper reviews the historical background and then focuses on the last 25 years during which automobile navigation and route guidance systems achieved a degree of technological maturity and blossomed into the centerpiece of the world- wide intelligent transportation systems (ITS), known until recently as intelligent vehicle-highway systems (IVHS).
Published in: NAVIGATION, Journal of the Institute of Navigation, Volume 42, Number 1
Pages: 235 - 258
Cite this article: French, Robert L., "FROM CHINESE CHARIOTS TO SMART CARS: 2,000 YEARS OF VEHICULAR NAVIGATION", NAVIGATION, Journal of The Institute of Navigation, Vol. 42, No. 1, Spring 1995, pp. 235-258.
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