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  • Charl Jooste

Enter the DJI Phantom 4 RTK

Image: DJI

DJI has long been the drone of choice for recreational use and often for filmmaking but over recent years, they have made major headway in designing and building models for commercial use. This is an obvious step given their technical skills and abilities with drones and UAVs. Their latest development is the extremely accurate and highly intelligent Phantom 4 RTK, perfect for low altitude mapping. It not only needs far less ground control points but delivers data that is accurate to the centimeter. Despite the added technology and abilities, DJI has managed to keep the drone compact and ultra-portable.

Two of the main advantages this development has it that it offers excellent navigation and precision photography at a much lower price than many of the larger commercial options, including DJI’s own Matrice range. This will make it affordable and very competitive.

The other is that, in many countries, a commercial license is required for the “commercial” drones which can be avoided with the Phantom 4 RTK. Just two very good reasons to fit this technology into the trusted Phantom series.

Let’s look at some of the key features of this revolutionary real-time kinematic (RTK) upgrade of the already phenomenal Phantom 4.

Image: DJI

Centimeter Level Positioning Data

The RTK offers true centimeter-level positioning accuracy in real-time. This is powered by a GNNS module under the receiver for redundancy and flight stability, particularly when the signal is not great. Extra metadata is captured and synced with the flight controller data and images to ensure accuracy.

In addition to this, it also has Wi-Fi through a 4G dongle that enables Network Transport of RTCM via Internet Protocol or NTRIP. Alternatively, satellite data is stored and later used on PPK or Post Processed Kinematics. This makes the RTK ideal for accurate inspections, surveying, and mapping.

TimeSync for perfectly accurate data

The RTK module, camera and flight controller are aligned at all times by the TimeSync positioning module. This will coordinate all metadata to ensure perfect accuracy.

Accurate Imaging

The 1-inch CMOS sensor delivers 20-megapixel images and uses a mechanical shutter to prevent any rolling shutter blur. Each lens is tested by DJI to eliminate any potential issues and allow for outstanding post-processing adjustments where necessary. The result is a GSD or Ground Sample Distance of 2.74 cm at 100 meters. This is extremely accurate.

Custom-made Flight Planning App

DJI did not simply convert existing platforms to work with the Phantom 4 RTK but built most of it from the ground up. This includes the flight planning app. It provides 2 modes for either waypoint flying or photogrammetry. From the app, you can control the speed, cameras, altitude, flight path, and other functions. This allows for automated inspections or mapping.

Supports Mobile SDK

The app also works with the DJI Mobile SDK which will allow users to customize their experience specifically for their needs. This also means that tasks can be fully automated.

Long range OcuSync Transmission

The power of the video transmission system will allow you to enjoy accurate and quality video from up to 7 km. This is an incredible feature but will require some time for FAA approval. For now, visual line of site is still required on most drones.

DJI is slowing bridging the gap between outstanding consumer drones and top quality commercial drones. This makes them more affordable and accessible and opens a world of opportunity for the many commercial applications available.


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