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What is RTK For Drones?

What is RTK For Drones?

In the field of drone technology, RTK (Real-Time Kinematic) is an important positioning and measurement technology that improves the positioning accuracy of drones through real-time differential GPS data. This article will explore the application of RTK technology and answer questions about the necessity and use of RTK drones to help readers better understand this technology.

What is RTK?

RTK stands for Real-Time Kinematic. RTK is a differential GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) that essentially calculates the difference in position between a nearby base station and the drone, allowing for centimeter-level positioning.

When RTK technology is combined with the drone sector, it revolutionizes the accuracy and capabilities of drones, better correcting for drone GNSS signal inaccuracies, making the data captured by drones more productive, and unlocking the potential for more new and innovative use cases.

RTK drone

Do I need an RTK drone?

RTK drone aerial surveying depends on the specific requirements of the project and the level of accuracy you seek. RTK drones are essential for applications that require high-precision positioning and measurement, such as precision agriculture, land surveying, and building monitoring.

RTK drone aerial surveying is faster and more accurate than traditional surveying, but also more expensive.

Do RTK drones need a base station?

Generally speaking, RTK drones are usually equipped with a ground base station. The ground base station receives satellite signals and performs real-time differential processing, then transmits the correction data to the drone, which improves the accuracy of the drone's GPS system, thereby improving its positioning accuracy. The deployment location and number of base stations will affect the coverage and positioning accuracy of the system.

Autel RTK UAVs can use network RTK, which can ensure the accuracy of RTK even without a base station.

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How accurate is RTK measurement?

RTK technology can achieve centimeter-level or even millimeter-level positioning accuracy, which is far higher than the accuracy of ordinary GPS positioning. Through real-time differential processing and base station correction, RTK UAVs can achieve high-precision three-dimensional positioning and attitude control, which is suitable for professional application scenarios with high requirements for position accuracy.

How is RTK used for drones?

RTK UAVs connect to ground base stations and receive correction data in real time to improve their positioning and navigation accuracy. During flight, RTK technology can ensure that the UAV drone performs tasks stably and accurately, while maintaining real-time communication with the ground base station to achieve high-precision track control and attitude stability.

Why does my drone need RTK?

If you need to perform precise aerial surveys, plant protection spraying, geological surveys and other tasks, RTK UAVs will provide you with key location information to ensure high accuracy of flight paths and measurement results. In addition, for professional users who need to perform fine positioning and remote sensing measurements, RTK drones can also improve work efficiency and the quality of results.

RTK drones for mapping

How do I connect my RTK to a drone?

RTK for drones, it can be said that external modules can also be built-in. When choosing an external RTK module, please review the following steps:

  1. Choose an RTK-compatible drone: Make sure your drone is compatible with RTK technology or can be upgraded to support the technology. Some drones have third-party interfaces for extended functions, pay attention to the suitability of the brand.
  2. Purchase RTK equipment: Invest in the necessary RTK equipment, including RTK modules and base stations. Please be prepared to spend some extra money for these devices.
  3. Install the RTK module: Install the RTK module to your drone according to the manufacturer's instructions. This step may require additional mounting hardware, which may affect the cost of your drone survey.
  4. Set up the base station: Place the base station in a known fixed location in your survey area. The cost of the base station and its setup should also be considered in your budget.
  5. Calibrate and configure: Calibrate and configure the RTK system to ensure accurate communication between the base station and the drone.
  6. Connect and test: Establish a stable connection between the drone and the base station. Test the RTK system to verify that it provides the required level of accuracy.

Connecting RTK to your drone involves equipment costs and technical setup, so it is important to plan and budget accordingly, taking into account the additional weight required for the RTK components and any professional assistance you may need.

What does RTK mean for drones?

RTK technology provides real-time corrections to the GNSS signals received by the drone. These corrections account for several errors that affect GNSS accuracy, such as atmospheric interference, signal multipath, and satellite orbit and clock errors.

By comparing the drone's GNSS data with data from a known location (the RTK base station), the RTK system can calculate and transmit error corrections to the drone, significantly improving its positioning accuracy.

When measuring and mapping, drones with RTK can reduce the number of drone ground control points, selectively match GNSS base stations, fully perceive the current position of the drone, significantly reduce post-processing time, simplify path planning and navigation workflows, and avoid collisions.

Network RTK refers to achieving centimeter-level accuracy by accessing more than 1,440 base stations around the world without having to set up GCPs yourself. With the help of modern RTK networks, you can easily fly drones for surveying and mapping.

autel rtk drone base

Is the RTK network free?

Most countries have deployed RTK networks to support surveyors within their territories, sometimes for free. Some users publish their base stations online for free. Eventually, you can get a paid subscription from the NTRIP service provider. If you want to be completely independent of the service, you can also purchase related components and install your own base station.

Note: RTK network service providers are not consistent in each country. Autel RTK drones are provided by Qianxun Spatial Intelligence lnc. in China. Please use the RTK network and base station provided by the RTK network service provider in your area.


RTK drones are a powerful positioning and surveying tool for professional applications that require high-precision positioning and navigation. Autel RTK drones provide you with RTK, Network RTK, PPK, which can achieve centimeter-level positioning accuracy. If your work requires high-precision aerial surveying and aerial surveying tasks, then Autel EVO II Pro RTK V3 and Autel EVO II 640T RTK V3 drones will undoubtedly become your right-hand man.

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