The International Archives of the Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Sciences
Publications Copernicus
Articles | Volume XL-1/W2
16 Aug 2013
 | 16 Aug 2013


W. Stempfhuber

Keywords: Low Cost, GNSS, Single Frequency, Carrier Phase Ambiguity Resolution, 3D-Positioning

Abstract. Small, aerial objects are now being utilised in many areas of civil object capture and monitoring. As a rule, the standard application of a simple GPS receiver with code solutions serves the 3D-positioning of the trajectories or recording positions. Without GPS correction information, these can be calculated at an accuracy of 10–20 metres. Corrected code solutions (DGPS) generally lie in the metre range. A precise 3D-positioning of the UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) trajectories in the centimetre range provides significant improvements. In addition, the recording time of each sensor can be synchronized with the exact time stamp of the GNSS low-cost system.

In recent years, increasing works on positioning from L1 GPS raw data have been published. Along with this, the carrier phase measurements with the established evaluation algorithms are analysed in the post processing method to centimetre-exact positions or to high-precision 3D trajectories [e.g. Schwieger and Gläser, 2005 or Korth and Hofmann 20011]. The use of reference information from local reference stations or a reference network serves the purpose of carrier phase ambiguity resolution. Furthermore, there are many activities worldwide in the area of PPP techniques (Precise Point Positioning). However, dual frequency receivers are primarily used in this instance. Moreover, very long initialisation times must be scheduled for this.

A research project on the subject of low-cost RTK GNSS was developed for real-time applications at the Beuth Hochschule für Technik Berlin University of Applied Sciences [Stempfhuber 2012]. The overall system developed for the purpose of real-time applications with centimetre accuracy is modularly constructed and can be used for various applications ( With hardware costing a few hundred Euro and a total weight of 500–800 g (including the battery), this system is ideally suited for UAV applications. In addition, the GNSS data processed with the RTK method can be provided in standardised NMEA format. Through the reduced shadowing effects of the aerial objects, GNSS external factors such as multipath cause few problems. With L1 carrier phase analysis, the baseline computation must nevertheless remain limited at the range of a few kilometres. With distances of more than 5 kilometres between the reference station and the rover station position, mistakes arise in the decimetre area.

The overall modular system consists of a low-cost, single-frequency receiver (e.g. uBlox LEA4T or 6T receiver), a L1 antenna (e.g. the Trimble Bullet III), a developed data logger including an integrated WLAN communication module for storage and securing of the raw data as well as a power supply. Optimisation of the L1 antenna has shown that, in this instance, many problems relating to signal reception can be reduced. A calibration of the choke-ring adaptors for various antenna calibration facilities results in good and homogeneous antenna parameters. In this situation, the real-time algorithm from the Open Source project RTKLib [Takasu, 2010] generally runs on a small computer at the reference station. In this case, the data transfer from the L1 receiver to the PC is realisable through a serial cable. The rover station can transfer the raw data to the computing algorithm over a WLAN network or through a data radio. Of course, this computational algorithm can also be adapted to an integrated computing module for L1 carrier phase resolutions. The average time to first fix (TTFF) amounts to a few minutes depending on the satellite constellation. Different test series in movement simulators and in moving objects have shown that a stable, fixed solution is achieved with a normal satellite constellation. A test series with a Microdrones quadrocopter could also be conducted. In comparison of the RTK positions with a geodetic dual frequency receiver, differences are in millimetre ranges. In addition, reference systems (based on total stations) are present for the precise examination of the kinematically captured positioning [Eisenbeiss et al. 2009].