GPS positioning is fundamental data the drone needs to perform almost every task. Easy Aerial is working on ways to enhance the GPS accuracy and stability. Specifically we are experimenting in the last few weeks with duel frequency RTK in order to understand the real benefits of this new technology for drones. The integration process of duel frequency RTK to the drone autopilot, combined with high-end mapping cameras is not simple but the output of this system will generate first-grade 1 cm accuracy 3-D maps.
Real Time Kinematic (RTK) satellite navigation is a technique used to enhance the precision of position data derived from satellite-based positioning systems (global navigation satellite systems, GNSS) such as GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, and BeiDou. It uses measurements of the phase of the signal’s carrier wave, rather than the information content of the signal, and relies on a single reference station or interpolated virtual station to provide real-time corrections. In practice, RTK systems use a single base station receiver and a number of mobile units. The base station re-broadcasts the phase of the carrier that it observes, and the mobile units compare their own phase measurements with the one received from the base station. There are several ways to transmit a correction signal from base station to mobile station.
The most popular way to achieve real-time, affordable signal transmission is to use a radio modem, typically in the UHF band. In most countries, certain frequencies are allocated specifically for RTK purposes. Most land survey equipment has a built-in UHF band radio modem as a standard option. This allows the units to calculate their relative position to within millimeters, although their absolute position is accurate only to the same accuracy as the computed position of the base station. The typical nominal accuracy for these systems is 1 centimetre ± 2 parts-per-million (ppm) horizontally and 2 centimetres ± 2 ppm vertically. The technique is perfectly suited to roles like surveying. In this case, the base station is located at a known surveyed location, often a benchmark, and the mobile units can then produce a highly accurate map by taking fixes relative to that point. RTK has also found uses in autodrive/autopilot systems, precision farming, machine control systems and similar roles.