Yuneec has always had a reputation for being at the cutting edge of drone technology and is responsible for many amazing developments. They have done it again with the introduction of Real Time Kinematic (RTK) satellite navigation in their H520 line of commercial hexacopters. This breakthrough development was announced Jan. 31, 2019 in Corona, California.
The feature is an optional feature from Fixposition, a Swiss company specializing in computer vision techniques and precision satellite navigation. The RTK feature will allow much greater precision and accuracy with to the centimeter positioning even in difficult conditions or terrains.
This improved precision will also result in faster and more accurate 3D mapping as well as faultless recurring images. It will also make other commercial applications such as automated inspections faster and more accurate.
While many of these commercial applications have been available for some time, they have lacked the precision and accuracy that Yuneec can now offer with their RTK H520 drones. The pinpoint accuracy allows the drone to safely fly much closer to the object being inspected. In the past, inspection drones had to maintain a relatively safe distance, generally around a meter away from the object. This new technology allows them to work at a range of 1 cm + ppm horizontal / 1.5 cm + ppm vertical. That gives them a massive advantage and leads to faster, better and more precise results. What is more is that allows them to work in complex terrain or poor conditions much more effectively.
When rapid multiple images need to be captured, this improvement can make the world of difference. This is especially true when monitoring the development of natural disasters such as a landslide or an avalanche or monitoring the progress of a construction site. It is crucial that the position and angle are identical for each image even when they are hours, days or even weeks apart. The same technology is important for accurate accident scene analysis.
The improved accuracy that RTK satellite navigation brings to the Yuneec H5230 will reduce overlaps and can do an accurate job with fewer images. This significantly reduces the time taken to calculate these models leading to faster results. As many of these applications are time-critical, this is a valuable improvement.
The RTK functionality works by integrating with both the Yuneec’s hardware but also the software that manages the UAV. The excellent DataPilot™ software that Yuneec uses for drone management has already won several awards and is well respected in the industry. It is now even better.
There are two parts to the RTK system used on the H520 and these are the built-in module in the H520 as well as a ground base station. For ultimate GPS accuracy and precision, the system uses GLONASS, BeiDou, and Galileo. If circumstance prevents the use of a ground base station the system will function off the “national reference station network (network RTK).” This third-party application needs some form of internet connection. Mobile networks or hotspots are perfectly suitable.
All data is recorded for fast, easy and accurate Post Processed Kinematics (PPK).
When the exciting H520 RTK becomes available in Q2 2019, you will be able to choose from a range of options. You can either purchase the H520 fully configured with the RTK module for around $3199 or as an upgrade to an existing model for an additional $1699. The ground base station is purchased separately and that will sell for $2399.
For more information or technical specs, you can check them out here.