TechnologyWhat Is a GPS Simulator and What Is It...

What Is a GPS Simulator and What Is It Used For?


According to economic analysts, the global GPS device market is worth $1.78 billion. That makes it an enticing opportunity for entrepreneurs.

If you want to break into the GPS business, it’s smart to understand the ins and outs of this useful technology. One useful tool is the GPS simulator. Read on to learn what a GPS simulator is, how it works, and when you’ll want to use one. 

How Do GPS Devices Work?

Before you can understand a GPS simulator, it’s good to learn how GPS devices work in general. A GPS device receives signals from the Global Positioning System (GPS). The Global Positioning System is a constellation of 31 satellites. 

Each satellite in the system broadcasts navigation data. The different satellites use different radio frequencies to transmit information.

The transmitted navigation data includes the satellite’s ID, orbital information, and presumed orbital position relative to other satellites. 

A GPS device receives these transmissions. From there, it can calculate its own position based on the different information sets. 


GPS and GNSS devices are both global positioning systems. Both utilize satellites to determine geographic location.

GPS systems utilize the North American satellite constellation system. The United States Space Force launched this system of navigational satellites in 1993. The satellite constellation system itself is also called “GPS.” 

In 1995, the Russian Space Federation launched its navigational satellite system, known as GLONASS. Later, the following agencies launched navigational satellite constellations:

  • EU Space Program
  • European Space Agency
  • China National Space Administration
  • Indian Space Research Organization 
  • Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency

GNSS devices use all available satellite constellations for global positioning. In contrast, GPS devices only use the GPS constellation. 

Today, most navigation devices are fully GNSS enabled. They’re compatible with all satellite constellations. 

What is a GPS Simulator?

A GPS simulator is a device that generates radio frequencies. With these frequencies, it transmits the same data as GPS satellites. 

It’s easy to change several parameters with a simulator. This lets companies test GPS products in different conditions. 

For example, a developer can test the efficacy of a product if the signal’s trajectory is altered. You can also run tests simulating different atmospheric conditions on a small scale, and see the impact of that weather on your device. 

Why Use a GPS Simulator?

A GPS simulator reduces the time it takes to develop satellite navigation products. It also saves money spent on more elaborate satellite-based and atmospheric tests. 

GPS simulation provides consistent results. 

What Types of GPS Simulators Are There?

The three primary categories of GPS simulators are:

  • GPS RF/Record Replay systems
  • Full Constellation simulators
  • Engine simulators

Engine simulators are the least complex of the three. These simulators are software. The engine is separate from the satellite constellation system and integrated into a circuit.

Record/Replay simulators record a discrete signal from a live GNSS satellite antenna. The rate of recording is extremely high. Then, the signal is stored on a hard drive to replay later. 

Full Constellation simulators are the most complex. They recreate all signals in the constellation. This is the most accurate, but it also takes the most processing power. 

If you want a deep-dive into each type of GPS simulator, learn more at

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