Primordial and Magellan Change Off-Road Navigation
People who spend lots of time outdoors know that the shortest route between two points is almost never a straight line. Terrain elements such as cliffs, rivers, lakes, and dense forest get in the way. Sometimes you just want the “easiest” way to get from point A to B which is rarely a straight line. But handheld GPS devices don’t typically route that way. Instead, they favor creating straight line routes which is rarely the route you would really want to take. Enter Primordial and their new software that will soon be available on Magellan Triton models.
Route choices on handheld devices tend to not be very creative. On some models you can pick a hiking trail or a road and ask the GPS to follow it, but those databases of trails are not nearly s complete as their paved road equivalents. Often you will need to create the route yourself and upload it to your GPS.
Traditionally, you would create that route in one of two ways. The first way would be just to create a simple straight-line route to point B, using your current (starting) location as point A. As you travel the GPS will continue to show you which direction the destination is, and how far it is away. It is your job to then traverse the terrain in between, and deal with any obstacles as they come about.
A second method of routing would be to build up a route of multiple waypoints. In this case if there was something in the middle of you and your destination, such as a lake, you might create a route from your current position (A) to a point on one side of the lake (B) and then continuing on to your destination (C). The GPS will then create a route of two straight lines, one from point A to B and the second from point B to C.
But why do this work yourself? That is what Primordial and Magellan are asking. Primordial’s software will ask you for your starting location and destination, then build a route that takes into account terrain obstacles such as lakes and steep terrain. How does it work?
Part of the system relies on knowing what type of ground cover is in the area. If you are walking across bare rock you might be able to manage 3 mph while a dense evergreen forest might only allow 1 mph. The incline of the terrain can also impact speed. A route across flat terrain will generally be faster than a route with steep inclines.
You can also add your own shapes to the map defining restricted areas. For example a hunter might know there is bordering land which they are not allowed to travel on. They could draw out a shape where the restricted land is and the route generated would avoid that property.
The system looks pretty interesting, and if it works as intended could cut down on the amount of time people need to spend manually customizing a route. Just don’t reduce the amount of time you spend on your own researching the route ahead of time to keep you out of trouble. 😉