Drotek releases first L1 RTK GNSS compatible with PixHawk (ArduPilot/PX4)

Dear Community,

Drotek, French tech start-up is proud to release its L1 RTK GNSS ! RTK technology allows to enhance GNSS positioning and to go down to centimeter level precision.

We have seen a lot of RTK boards coming up. However we have witnessed no good integration for the UAV segment and no performance enhancement in difficult environments.

This is why we decided to develop a solution to cope with these issues. Drotek is specialized in electronic design for UAVs and has put all its expertise in designing this board, jointly with French National Center for Space Studies (CNES) and French Institute for Aeronautics and Space (ISAE).

What is RTK for?

RTK technology uses corrections from a second GNSS receiver (called “base”, the other mobile receiver is called “rover”) in order to correct errors that lead to meter level precision. It has been used for a long time by surveyors, but at a very high cost. Today we want to trivialize this technology.

Our two years spent on developing this product have led us to focus on several points, such as connectivity, signal quality, EMI, real-time, etc...

We have compared our system’s performance with dual frequency receivers (in blue, Rover : Septentrio AsteRx 3 L1/L2 + Novatel geodesic antenna in RTK with base Trimble NetR9 + TRM59800), and it is pretty astonishing!

RTK works well in clean open-sky environments, but we like to test our device in difficult scenarios. Urban canyon is stil a pipe dream, but some route on ground robot in medium-hard environment (buildings, trees…) gives pretty good results :

Comparison between single GPS (red) and RTK : have a look at the left side under the tree. Single position gets highly contaminated by multipath, whereas the big ground plane and the Tallysman antennas filter it quite well :

Comparison between RTK Drotek (orange) and another open-source RTK solution (yellow) :

Base correction data can be sent through serial port with 3DR Radio types but also through cabled or wireless Internet for those want to get rid of range limitations. All drivers and server programs are already in the board. The following table sums up the different possible ways of communication between rover and base.

We are currently developing LoRa based transmitters, hoping that these will fulfill our expectations (we are quite excited about them!). Coming soon.

We truly believe in open-source community, but this board has also been designed to work “as is”. All boards will be delivered flashed and ready-to-use, with really little configuration, mainly for non-advanced users who would wish to get to precision without spending too much time on understanding how it works. Our wiki will explain everything step-by-step, but will also provide support on using RTKLIB graphical tools for post-processing and analyzing data. Do not forget to check our Github, we will publish in it really soon!

All our boards are stamped “Made in France”, we pay a lot of attention to the devices we manufacture in our French factory. Our motto is open source and open hardware, we work this way and we will stay this way. We want sell the atoms not the bits.

The package will be available in our site for pre-ordering. The expected release date is in one month, with a price of 699 € excluding VAT.

Our website is currently being redesigned, hope you will appreciate the new one! There will be plenty of content on how to use all the devices we manufacture, from little sensors to big boards!

Some additional exciting results :

This picture depicts the precision you can expect with good conditions, amazing!


A little demonstration (shot yesterday!) :

We modified an Iris+ drone, removed its GPS and replaced it by our board. Take-off is manual, and as soon as the drone lifted we triggered Return To Launch mode. The drone succeeded in landing on the table approximately 1 out of 2 times. It touched the table with at least two feet each time we tried the procedure.  Wind conditions were quite gentle but with a fair amount of gusts. Even if the board provides precision, there has been a lot of work on the controller’s PIDs to achieve this result!

We used a Netgear WiFi router to transmit raw data from the base to the rover, using Edison's WiFi. Base was connected in Ethernet to the router, everything powered by a 4S LiPo and a 12V power module.

We will offer a board to the person who comes up with the coolest name for the device !

10% off on pre-order !


See you soon in our website !


Views: 14124

Comment by Darius Jack on February 6, 2016 at 5:20pm

Thank you Kevin,

but if you publish a single RTK GPS accuracy test, so you exactly claim 5mm accuracy

of your RTK GPS since you don't publish other test.

5mm RTK GPS accuracy test is unreliable since 5cm is claimed by developer of RTKLib.

Alike problem is with your comparison of 2 RTK GPS units.

Just disclose the name of other manufacturer to let buyers to request more tests to be done, tests supervised by both manufacturers.

Today market of RTK GPS totally collapsed since none manufacturer claims full understanding of the theory behing RTK corrections.

Pure implementation of open source RTKLib on Linux machine makes no sense

since your oponent did exactly what you did it, implementing RTKLib alike way.

I am working on software-only high accuracy GPS technology since 70km

ground station  - rover away high accuracy solution offered in case of geodesy grade rover unit is hard to believe is you study GPS Ionospheric error maps in 24h cycles

to show 5-10 metres offset for any fixed geolocation.

I am satisfied with 5-10 metres GPS high accuracy claimed by Ublex

since this is for real ( 200-page long manual and paper)

But 5mm accuracy is highly unreliable as opposed to claimed by developer of RTKLib

- 5cm accuracy.

We should get real

5cm makes 10 x 5mm

So is your test unreliable or theory behind  RTKLib should be revised once again.

Comment by MarioSpeedwagon on February 6, 2016 at 11:58pm

Darius has a habit of hijacking every single blog post that's been posted in the last 6 months. 

Comment by Marc Dornan on February 7, 2016 at 12:04am
Hijacking with gibberish one might add.

Comment by RC Tech.se on February 7, 2016 at 1:46am

With the power of double-spaced text


no one

can miss

his posts...

Comment by Darius Jack on February 7, 2016 at 3:23am

please don't waste my time and read
200-page long paper on RTK by Tomoji Takasu,
read 200=long manual on M8 GPS chip by Ublox
read another 200+200 page-long papers on theory of high/low accuracy GPS.

RTK GPS systems should be tested and certified by independent agency first before released to final buyers.

Marketing is for money but life is for real.

Do you know any RTK GPS product certified under ISO, DIN standards ?
Comment by Darius Jack on February 7, 2016 at 3:29am
Sorry @Guy,

but your comments and drawings are misguiding since rover is just mobile rover, so what is generated on the plot is a track, not a single concentration point ( cloud of GPS 3D fixes).
Comment by DROTEK on February 7, 2016 at 4:28am

Thanks to companies like Emlid, Swiftnav…and now Drotek open source RTK moves forward. We do not name competitors because we think it is not constructive. Thanks to these pioneers we have seen centimeter-level affordable solutions coming up. There is still a lot to do regarding RTK, especially in difficult environments, but we will achieve this together, this is why open source exists we guess.

@Darius, are you sharing your findings in some website, blog? Kevin will be happy to read your work, he is quite keen of 200+ pages documentations :) 

Comment by Solution Clinic on February 7, 2016 at 5:16am

We're waiting a long time for this and are looking forward to the development :)

We would love to get hands on one and call it "BULLSEYE" 

Comment by Darius Jack on February 7, 2016 at 6:29am


one more thing

basing on your drawings I can assume you don't understand how GPS works.

GPS is aimed as high accuracy instrument ( Ublox claims M8 to show high accuracy

wihin 5-10 metres range).

There is no such term as high precision GPS, since what you describe and call "high precision" is exactly a bug in algorithmics, making GPS product not fit as market product.

Please go back to basics of GPS technology and just learn how GPS works.

Comment by kiki boy on February 7, 2016 at 7:25am
Fyi, it's 5-10 m without corrections ... here we talk about m8 ublox with rtk corrections.


You need to be a member of DIY Drones to add comments!

Join DIY Drones


Season Two of the Trust Time Trial (T3) Contest 
A list of all T3 contests is here. The current round, the Vertical Horizontal one, is here

© 2019   Created by Chris Anderson.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service