What is GPS vs Galileo vs GLONASS and WAAS?

Garmin Foretrex® 701 with Applied Ballistics® LLC features GPS, GLONASS, & Galileo. It also features WAAS and Ultratrac. But what does all that mean? Today, we answer this question for you.

GPS – GPS is an acronym for Global Positioning System, which is an array of 32 satellites. When you use a GPS receiver, the known variable is where the satellites are, but not where you are. The satellites essentially use known time (atomic clock) and location which is transmitted to a receiver. The satellites transmit their time and by measuring the offset of the time between the satellites and the receiver you can determine your location.

Galileo – This is similar to GPS, except that it is owned and operated by the European Union and European Space Agency. It was developed to ensure that European Nations do not have to rely on the US (GPS) and Russian (GLONASS) systems.

GLONASS (Globalnaya Navigazionnaya Sputnikovaya Sistema) – This was developed as a Russian alternative to GPS.

What does this mean in laymans terms? GPS, Galileo, & GLONASS are different systems that perform the same function. Think of it like Chevy, Ford, & Dodge. All of them build trucks, just to slightly different standards. GPS with WAAS is the highest standard of accuracy. By utilizing more than one system at a time (checking your math, as your 3rd grade teacher used to make you do) you can improve the accuracy of your location measurement. But what about WAAS?

WAAS is an acronym for Wide Area Augmentation System. WAAS performs an integrity check on the GPS system, and provides corrections to the individual satellites in 5 second intervals. Essentially, WAAS provides location corrections for the satellites locations to the user, which gives you a higher resolution location measurement by providing the error of each satellites location.

Finally, we come to one last feature in the 701 Foretrex: Ultratrac. Ultratrac is a GPS feature that records fewer points of location. By utilizing the GPS feature less often, you can more than double the battery life of the unit. Use Ultratrac when you really don’t need as accurate position/speed tracking.

What does this mean for a user? The Garmin Foretrex 701 works with every major positioning system in the world, can be coupled with two of them at a time, and offers advanced features to help conserve battery life with maintaining the highest accuracy.