When you hear the term “GPS tracking”, what’s the first association that comes to mind? If you said cars and trucks, you’re in the majority. Tracking automotive vehicles is the most commonly known purpose attached to GPS systems. Companies track fleet vehicles, police find stolen cars and your roadside assistance locates you all via GPS.

One of the benefits of this technology is that it’s not limited to four-wheel conveyances. Other vehicles, items and even people can be tracked using a GPS system. Here’s a list of some of these other applications. Whether or not they’re appropriate for you, they may trigger an idea for a use that is.

  • Ground-based vehicles aren’t the only ones that can be tracked by GPS. These systems can be used with aircraft and even rockets. Surprisingly, though, the majority of air traffic is still handled by radar due to the high cost of handling large volumes of data. A new GPS-based system for aircraft is expected to be phased in over the next 10 years. In addition, the U.S. Air Force recently took steps to begin replacing ground-based tracking of spacecraft with GPS.
  • The anguish of losing a beloved family pet may be a thing of the past. There are now a handful of devices on the market that are used to track your dog or cat. The GPS unit stays on the pet and communicates back to you via smartphone, computer or a special handset.
  • Do you get annoyed with kids who “forget” to check in with you? Perhaps you have an elderly parent or grandparent who needs assistance. Personal GPS tracking systems are now portable enough to fasten to a key chain. They work by emitting a signal that’s relayed to a webpage where you can check the location.
  • Even Mother Nature isn’t immune from the power of GPS tracking. Scientists from NASA and NOAA have been developing a system that combines GPS stations with sensors like barometers to study and evaluate earthquakes and flash floods. They’re hopeful that the technology will eventually reach the point where it can be used to predict these natural events.