How do you get from one point to another today? You enter an address or two into your GPS in either your smartphone or car, right? It seems unthinkable to navigate a course in any type of vehicle without one. But if you reach deep into your memory banks, you may remember a time when GPS seemed like a concept from The Jetsons, if you even thought of it at all.

Of course, the military was using GPS (a.k.a. Global Positioning System) long before it became available to the public. Back in the 1970’s, GPS technology was used heavily by the armed forces to navigate using radio frequency waves. Following an airline disaster in 1983, the Reagan administration announced that GPS would officially become available for civilian use. Before that, you were forced to rely on a number of low-tech methods that could be frustratingly inaccurate.

Here’s a look back at some of the ways that travelers navigated across land, sea or air before GPS became a household acronym.

  • Radar navigation involves transmitting an electromagnetic signal at a target and using the reflected echo to calculate distance. When the system uses sound waves, it’s known as sonar navigation. This method has been used extensively to track aircraft and marine vehicles.
  • Sextants were used by explorers like Sir Edmund Shackleton to navigate across the oceans. This tool uses a two-mirror system to measure the angle of a celestial body such as the sun in relation to the horizon. Despite being relatively simple, sextants were incredibly accurate.
  • Chronometers were timekeeping devices created for use at sea, where temperature changes and the ship’s motion rendered traditional clocks unusable. Their accuracy at determining longitude made them valuable navigational tools.
  • Maps and atlases were the navigational aids of choice for most land-bound travelers. While atlases became more of a tool for school children studying geography, maps improved on them in terms of portability. However, it was difficult to keep them current, resulting in frustration when a route was found to be obsolete. Real-time updates such as warnings on road construction or recent accidents were unheard of.

Navigation before GPS text over infographic timeline of the history of GPS

For vehicle fleet owners and fleet managers, GPS tracking is now no longer a rarely used luxury, rather,  it’s now a necessity for success. By using real-time, cloud-based GPS tracking software, businesses can keep track of expensive vehicles and assets with a simple click.

Of course, there’s more to GPS tracking than just knowing where your vehicles are at all times. GPS tracking and fleet management software can also provide mission-critical benfits. Take a look at just some of the reasons why every fleet needs fleet management solutions:

Track and protect assets.

A GPS tracking and fleet management solution offers protection, prevention and visibility of your fleet with real-time, 24/7 monitoring.

Reduce fuel costs.

By monitoring and identifying driver behavior, you can reduce wasted fuel consumption by nearly 80% and decrease idle time by almost 40%.

Save on labor costs.

Monitor and streamline your workforce with accurate timecard information and scheduling, saving you up to 35%.

Increase best practices.

Quickly view and analyze the behavior of your workforce with driver behavior alerts and color-coded scorecards and actionable data you can use.

Keep a handle on maintenance.

Set reminder alerts for maintenance, address issues quickly and increase your vehicle’s lifespan by up to 35%.

Make better decisions.

With a huge range of data-rich, customizable reports, you’ll always have a handle on the numbers that matter to your bottom line.

Still not convinced? Why not try our free, online ROI calculator to see how much you could be saving. You can also see our solution in action with a free, no-pressure demo from one of our friendly Fleet Advisors.