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Drone Mapping

Drone Mapping: RTK VS PPK VS GCP

Drone aerial surveying and mapping has the characteristics of high precision, high operation efficiency and strong data analysis ability, which largely solves the pain points of manual surveying and mapping.

At the same time, in order to better explain drone surveying and mapping, we will explain the advantages, disadvantages and applications of surveying and mapping accuracy brought by the three positioning technologies of RTK VS PPK VS GCP in this blog.

What is RTK technology and how does it work?

1. RTK (Real-Time Kinematic)

RTK is a real-time kinematic positioning technique that measures the position of an object by communicating a moving receiver with a base station of known location. This technique can provide highly accurate measurements, usually within centimeters. In drone mapping, RTK technology can provide high-precision positioning information in order to generate high-quality maps and models.

RTK Drone Mapping


  • - Real-time: RTK can provide instant positioning information, so that the drone can adjust the flight path in real time in the air.
  • - High precision: RTK can provide positioning information at the centimeter level, and can provide high-precision data for surveying and mapping.


  • - High price: The high cost of RTK equipment increases the cost of drone surveying and mapping.
  • - Restrictions: RTK needs to communicate with a base station, the wireless signal is limited, and the base station must be within the line of sight of the device.

RTK Drone Mapping before Building

At the same time, due to the use of RTK technology for data collection, the link between the drone and the base station may be interrupted by buildings or other structures. Therefore, the emergence of network RTK can make up for this deficiency. Network RTK does not require a base station, providing a more flexible and economical positioning solution.

What is PPK technology and how does it work?

2. PPK (Post-Processing Kinematic)

PPK is a post-processing motion localization technique, similar to RTK. But the difference is that in PPK, a GPS receiver on the drone records its location and then uploads the data to ground-based processing software for processing. This technique can provide a level of accuracy comparable to RTK.


  • - High accuracy: Similar to RTK, PPK can provide high-precision positioning information.
  • - No restrictions: Unlike RTK, PPK does not need to communicate with a base station, so there is no communication range limitation.


  • - Requires post-processing: PPK requires post-processing of the data, so it takes longer to produce results.
  • - Professional knowledge required: PPK needs to be processed with professional software, which requires certain technical knowledge and experience.

What is PPK technology and how does it work?

3. GCP (Ground Control Point)

GCP is a ground control point, which is a special marker point placed on the ground manually, which can be used to calibrate the error in the drone mapping process. In drone mapping, GCP can be used to improve the accuracy of generated maps and models.


  • - High accuracy: GCP can improve the accuracy of maps and models, and can be used to check the correctness of measurements.
  • - Inexpensive: Placement of GCP is cheaper and less costly than RTK and PPK.


  • - Troublesome placement: markers need to be placed manually, which increases the workload.
  • - Time consumption: Additional time and manpower are required to place GCP, which increases the time cost of surveying and mapping.
  • - Difficult to set up in complex terrain: In some difficult-to-access areas, manually placing GCPs becomes dangerous and challenging.

In conclusion

In drone mapping, RTK, PPK, and GCP technologies all have their advantages and disadvantages.

If you need highly accurate real-time positioning results and have no constraints on cost, RTK may be the best choice.

If you need high accuracy positioning results but don't want to spend too much money, PPK may be a good choice.

If you want to increase the accuracy of your maps and models at low cost, GCP might be a suitable solution. However, when driving a non-RTK drone for distance measurement, the error may reach within a few meters.

View More: 

PPK VS RTK – Which is the Best Mapping Drone Technology?

The Importance of RTK Search for Commercial Drones

Autel EVO II Pro RTK Drone Mapping and Surveying: All You Need To Know

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