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: 14395

Comment by Hugues on February 6, 2016 at 6:31am

Salut Drotek,

Est-ce que la base est comprise dans le prix ?  La base est-elle identique au niveau hardware au rover ou quelles sont les differences ?

Quel est le poids du rover tout compris ?

Est-ce que les cables de raccordement du rover a Pixhawk pour les port DF13 6pin GPS et le port 4pin du compas sont compris ? Et surtout avez vous enfin des cables en silicone souple ?



Comment by Cala on February 6, 2016 at 6:51am

Huguessss!!!!!, english is an esfford for me, French I'm in the ovennnn!!! and this looks intersting to follow results :)

Comment by Kevin Lopez Alvarez on February 6, 2016 at 7:38am

Bonjour Hugues,

La base est incluse dans le prix. La base est identique au niveau hardware au rover, à ceci près que l'Edison est optionnelle si la fonctionnalité TCP n'est pas utilisée.

Poids du rover tout compris : 145g

Non les câbles ne sont pas compris dans les pre-order pour le moment et oui nous possédons enfin des câbles JWT en silicone souple!


I'll translate the answer in English as well!

Base is included in the price. It is completely similar to rover except than Edison is optional if you do not plan to use it in TCP mode.

Rover's weight : 145g

Cables are not included in the pre-order package for the moment. We do have silicon soft JWT cables in our store now.


Comment by Emlid on February 6, 2016 at 7:51am


It is good to see more work on L1 RTK. The RTKLIB Web Console appears to be Emlid ReachView with reworked front end?  I am sure that you are aware of your obligation to publish the modified source code since this product is already available for sale. 

Comment by Kevin Lopez Alvarez on February 6, 2016 at 8:08am

Hi Emlid,

It is not Reachview, we have been working on this project for a long time. We programmed the application in NodeJS/AngularJS, all sources will be available in our Github.

You have done great work too on L1 RTK. We developed this project since the beginning with a UAV easily-integrable insight (no cables, ground plane, EMI protection, mostly everything integrated on the board...). We are also working on RTKLIB software add-ons to improve solution's strength and quality. Of course we are open to any collaboration with L1 RTK actors for any development.

Comment by Jerry Giant on February 6, 2016 at 8:39am

great work. if you are chinese they will say they are success because you are cloning anything they make.

Comment by Hugues on February 6, 2016 at 9:18am

@Cala, sorry did not think that I would "put you in an oven" by speaking french lol. What an expression!

@Kevin, what's the TCP function required for ? : I assume to connect to the rover via WiFi or TCP/IP via a router ? So what's trhe price difference between a full kit having the base with or without Edison ?

Comment by Kevin Lopez Alvarez on February 6, 2016 at 9:56am

Yes exactly! Sorry my mistake, this is the pricing for two Edisons, there will be a small discount on the version with only one Edison.

Comment by Kevin Lopez Alvarez on February 6, 2016 at 10:01am

Useful for 3G actually also if you want to get rid of range limitations. Simplest way is to use an UART radio between base and rover. But TCP allows to have a wired base connected to the Internet. Then it can be used by as many rovers as you want, in Wifi, 3G, Ethernet...

Comment by AGRIBIRD on February 6, 2016 at 11:23am

Hi drotek, 

Incredible work ! You've hidden well this project ! 

We just preordered one and are already looking forward to playing with ;-) 

We are a French company that build drones for agricultural use (precision ag and spreading system). We worked with Drotek since our beginning and we can say that behind the name drotek, hides a formidable team, open source minded and with a high-level of expertise.As we often said “Nothing is impossible in drotek’s labs”. From PCB Design to electronic cards manufacture, everything is made in their workshop … and we all know that the costs in France are not the same than in China ;-)

So thank you and continu making incredible products at an affordable price.  Big players in the drone’s open source world leaves the ship, you have to take the follow ! … and stay as you are !

@kevin : We’re also interested in the LoRa telemetry module, keep us informed about the tests results. 


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