Most industrial drones have excellent satellite coverage, however there are tasks that can make accurate positioning difficult, such as surveying an indoor production line, creating a detailed 3D model, or spraying in a less accessible area. Accuracy and precision are essential in these operations. Successful task completion in such cases is facilitated by RTK positioning.

What is RTK?

RTK stands for Real-Time Kinematic Positioning and the essence of the technology is that it establishes a connection with ground stations, unlike traditional positioning devices that communicate with satellites. It is important to note that RTK does not replace GPS-based positioning but makes it more accurate by including a new transmitter

Ground station

Many industrial drones have a built-in RTK module, but this alone is not enough for centimeter-accurate positioning due to the rapid and continuous movement of the drone. A ground station is needed to use the RTK system properly. Unlike drones, these devices do not move, so they can work much more accurately. There are two ways to connect to these stations: you can buy your own device or use a pre-installed transmission tower.

Yuneec H520E RTK drone with built in RTK system

The advantage of a mobile station is that it can be used anytime and anywhere, and once purchased, there are no more expenses except maintenance. If you use your drone with an RTK module on a regular basis, or work in remote locations away from permanent stations, you may want to invest in a mobile RTK device, so you don’t have to rely on pre-installed towers. Using stations installed by service providers may be an ideal choice if you do not need the long-term benefits of RTK or if the necessary capital is not available. This way, you don’t have to buy and set up the device every time.

Network RTK

Although domestic service providers have extensive coverage, there are certain situations where we must work away from permanent stations. If you do not have a mobile device, you may want to use a system called network RTK. A network RTK is a virtual station created by multiple remote permanent stations. This way we can work with centimeter accuracy even in the farthest places.

Using RTK

With the right tool, the benefits of RTK systems can be used in all applications of industrial drones. The Yuneec H520E, often used by ABZ professionals, is an ideal choice for these tasks thanks to its modularity and one of the most accurate built-in RTK systems in the world. The drone performs well even in the toughest conditions and is able to hold position with centimeter accuracy, so we can take high-quality aerial shots and 3D models with it.

Proper software background is also important for using such complex, fast, and accurate data transfer technology. To manage the surveys, the ABZ team primarily uses Pix4D