The Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) is being developed by the FAA to enhance the accuracy and integrity of global positioning receivers. WAAS consists of a network of ground stations, which monitor the integrity and accuracy of Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites. This information is transmitted to users via a geo-stationary satellite in a format, which is compatible with the basic GPS signal structure. WAAS information is offered free-of-charge to GPS users and does not require the purchase of additional receiving equipment. The WAAS signal has been available since December 1999 on a near continuous basis. By using WAAS information, select Garmin products can offer enhanced accuracy typically within three meters or about five times better than products which are not compatible with the WAAS system.
"This is exciting news for our customers," said Gary Kelley, director of marketing, Garmin International. "The addition of WAAS will make a significant difference to Garmin users who are navigating in poor visibility conditions. In the case of a mariner encountering heavy fog, WAAS corrections could help paint a more accurate picture of his environment, thus resulting in safer travel."
In August 2000, the FAA declared the WAAS system available for non-aviation applications like boaters and recreational users. Other governments are developing similar differential systems such as the Japanese Multi-Functional Satellite Augmentation System (MSAS) and the European Euro Geo Stationary Overlay Program (EGNOS) system. Eventually, users around the world will have access to precise positioning using the WAAS, MSAS, EGNOS and other compatible systems.
Garmin has now made this amazing technology available in some of its handheld and fixed-mount GPS receivers. The recently announced eTrex Venture®, eTrex Legend™ and eTrex Vista® handheld units now feature WAAS capability, as does the GPS 152, a new fixed-mount marine unit. In addition, the GPSMAP® 162 and GPSMAP 168 Sounder will also support WAAS corrections after a software update. Customers can visit the Garmin Web site at www.garmin.com to obtain a free software download for the GPSMAP 162 and GPSMAP 168 Sounder.