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 !

http://drotek.io/1PodT25

See you soon in our website !

www.drotek.com

Views: 14161

Comment by JoeBob on February 14, 2016 at 10:27am

It looks like most of the helicals do not require a ground plane.  That could make your project much smaller (lighter).  Not that you want to start a re-design now...

Comment by Kevin Lopez Alvarez on February 15, 2016 at 8:38am
Yes we have seen that , this is great work! We are in contact with U-Blox on a regular basis and follow closely this chip. We will try to be the first ones to provide a RTKLIB/M8P comparison, we have asked them for some samples that we will get soon hopefully.
Otherwise we have been running some tests on the Maxtena, results are good!
Half an hour static test on Tallysman antenna (green) and Maxtena (dark blue) show that Maxtena looks suitable for RTK. This was M1516HCT-P-SMA passive antenna. This test was only static and open-sky, we still need to go further with more difficult environments, and kinematic situations before drawing final conclusions.
Shape factor with Tallysman's version :
This could lead to a smaller and lighter design (Maxtenas do not need any ground plane), we can estimate such board weight to 60g I would say.
Comment by Eladio L. García de la Morena on February 15, 2016 at 9:16am

Very good and promising advances. Congratulations

Comment by Antonio Vigoni on February 15, 2016 at 9:40am

Very good Kevin, we fly in the sky not under trees, so no problem ;)

Comment by QuangNguyen on February 18, 2016 at 6:35am

Congrats, really nice results. Looking forward for more introduction video about the tests of your systems.

Comment by Kevin Lopez Alvarez on February 22, 2016 at 2:40am

Very interesting article :

http://effigis.com/centimetric-precision-with-affordable-l1-receivers/

For further discussion, do not hesitate to post on our forum as well :

http://drotek.com/forum

Comment by DROTEK on March 18, 2016 at 7:52am

Great news, first batch has been produced ! All SMARTNAV L1 RTK GNSS pre-order will be shipped next week ! 

we are launching the second batch and we maintain the discounted price only for 1 week more. 

The weather is not very gentle in France at the moment, it rains a lot, but be reassured, we will published tests and results soon.

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