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How Real-Time Kinematic Module Helps to Improve GPS Accuracy in Drones

As drones become increasingly popular in the industrial landscape, their applications continue to evolve. Nowadays, you will find drones in most industrial sectors like photography, topography, agriculture, construction, etc.

Regardless of the application, one critical factor, especially in autonomous drones, is GPS accuracy. For instance, aerial imaging drones and LIDAR drones that map terrains require pinpoint accuracy to derive more accurate models in the virtual world.

As a result, improving the efficiency of GPS tracking is a critical point under discussion for most drone researchers. The top manufacturers are keen to increase GPS accuracy to provide a more optimal design to consumers.

The Real-Time Kinematic module has proven to be an effective option among many technologies.

This post will look at how Real Time Kinematics modules work and what makes them so good for improving drone GPS accuracy.

What are Real Time Kinematics Modules?

Real-Time Kinematics (RTK) is a precision-enhancing technique commonly used in drones. It can generate higher accuracy and precision in predicting the position of a drone receiver.

In addition, the RTK modules assist in receiving satellite signals and use various positioning systems like GPS, GLONASS, BeiDou, Galileo, etc.

Since the received position is an output of multiple satellites, there is an obvious improvement in determining the receiver's position. As a result, the position accuracy is much more precise than the traditional GNSS solutions, which are normally used in handheld devices, smartphones, etc.

The relative derivation of the drone position makes it more accurate. Also, it helps in determining the errors found in the GNSS antenna results and can help correct the errors with RTK technology.

Since it's a real-time positioning system, it can enhance the performance of a surveyor drone and provide more precision to aerial imaging drones. However, you may need professional and experienced drone services to utilize RTK modules for seamless accuracy in drones. In this regard, the Flyguys team has helped various businesses with improved aerial imaging, location surveys, and tower inspections.

How Does Real Time Kinematics (RTK) Work?

Before we discuss RTK modules' efficacy for drones, let's quickly skim how RTK works. RTK technology uses a base station and a mobile device. The base station receives the signal from GNSS satellites to determine the location of the mobile device or drone.

The information is transmitted in real-time, so the drone can correct its location if there is any error. This becomes useful in autonomous drones.

For instance, consider Amazon delivery drones. If the drones land at the wrong location, they can instantly upgrade their location via RTK technology and make corrections accordingly.

The set of hardware that ensures such flawless communication at high speed includes:

  • Base station radio transmitter
  • Radio Modulator
  • Amplifier

Since additional hardware is involved, a real-time kinematics drone costs more than a conventional drone. However, it's worth the investment, given that the accuracy improves considerably.

Communication works most effectively for a 6-to-12-mile range. A longer range may induce communication failures and possible errors in determining the exact location.

How Real-Time Kinematics Can Improve Drone GPS Tracking?

RTK modules are now available in many drone models, and drone services like flyguys use them consistently for most applications. Typically, drones with RTK have a base station like a regular RTK.

However, the base station is portable, i.e., the remote control helps transmit the accurate coordinates of the GPS to the drone. As a result, the drone can update its location.

For instance, if you're using a drone for aerial imaging, you can get more precise coordinates for a captured image, increasing the accuracy of topographical maps. As a result, it can enhance drone capabilities and provide more details to image stitching algorithms to create close-to-real images.

Some drones have an accuracy of up to 3 cm, which makes them the right option for sensitive operations, research work, LIDAR mapping, etc. On top of that, it helps drone services to provide more quality data to other businesses.

Applications of Real-Time Kinematics Modules with Drones

Some of the other prominent applications of RTK modules for drones include:

Infrastructure Survey With Drone

Technical inspections and surveys become a lot easier with drones. Combined with highly accurate GPS data, drones will become the primary source of surveys and technical inspections for governmental operations. In addition, a surveyor drone will eliminate the need for advanced equipment and imaging devices, as surveyors can conduct drone videography with higher accuracy thanks to RTK modules.

Offshore Platform Reviews

Offshore platforms are dangerous to access. But with drones that can monitor and evaluate offshore sites aerially, it becomes much easier to review and conduct surveys for offshore locations. It will also reduce mobility costs and provide better data accuracy to the stakeholders.

Photogrammetry

Drones have immense applications in photogrammetry. It involves image processing for aerial footage and is much faster and cost-friendly than traditional imaging techniques. RTK drones can help optimize photogrammetry techniques and enhance their efficacy.

Benefits of Real-Time Kinematics Modules for Drone Services

Drone services can directly benefit from real-time kinematics modules. Here are the major advantages.

Enhanced Accuracy

For long-range applications, RTK modules can provide highly accurate location data. This helps remote operators to set their drones more precisely at a remote location. For instance, it can help search and rescue operators pick the right spot on land.

Likewise, RTK is helpful for 3D mapping too, which makes it a great option for drones with LIDAR and photogrammetry services.

Long Range Applications

Data precision typically suffers over long-range communication. However, RTK is quite effective for up to 12 miles, a significant range for most remote applications. Hence, it gives more control to remote control operators for different purposes such as photography, topographical mapping, etc.

Some More Ways to Improve GPS Tracking in Drones

While Real Time Kinematics modules are the best option for improving location accuracy, others are around. Here are some more ways to enhance location tracking in drones.

  • Fly drones at lower altitudes
  • Use high-resolution cameras to compensate for the lack of GPS accuracy
  • Fly in supportive weather conditions to obtain better positional accuracy
  • Use mechanical shutter cameras for better image stability
  • Capture the ground control points

Conclusion

Real-Time Kinematics modules can greatly improve GPS tracking in drones, proving pivotal for services like aerial imaging, LIDAR mapping, etc. Moreover, with RTK modules, drone services can also market their business more effectively and attract more audience.

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