In the UK, they are known as Satnavs, short for ‘Satellite Navigation’. There are many types, including the removable ones like the one above. These have to be taken away with you when you stop, or someone will soon be smashing the car window to steal it.
Some more expensive cars offer ones built into the car dashboard, often part of the car’s ‘Entertainment System’. Some add-ons include warning of speed cameras, traffic delays due to roadworks, and international maps for driving in Europe. All very nice, when it works.
They require constant updating to stay accurate, and the removable ones have to be connected to a computer to allow this.
My experience with them has not been good. Using one I bought for Julie, it constantly told us to ‘Turn Right’ when we were on a long bridge crossing a river. I have also been instructed to ‘Take the next exit’ where there was no exit. One issue seems to be that they need to receive a strong signal at all times. In some country districts and remote areas, this is just not possible.
Then there is the safety aspect. Almost all involve taking your eyes off the road briefly, to check on your progress. Yes, they talk to you and tell you where to go, but the desire to look at them is overwhelming.
These days, Google Maps on any smartphone offers the option of a free Satvav. Once again, signal strength is crucial, so I wouldn’t want to rely on it. It also uses up your phone battery very quickly as it has to update every few seconds.
I use a map. A big book of maps of Great Britain, buying an up to date one every couple of years. I look at it before I leave, and picture the journey in my head. For example. ‘A47 to A11, then all the way to junction 23’. Put the map away, and just do that, with nobody telling me to deviate. If I encounter any problems, I pull off the road into a lay-by or service area, and check the map again.
I have been driving for fifty-one years, and maps have never let me down once.