What is RTKRTK stands for Real-Time Kinematic. It is a positioning and navigation system that offers precise centimetre accuracy of your aircraft along with other benefits. DJI uses a combination of GPS and GLONASS or GPS and BeiDou, dependent on your region, and a ground station to achieve the RTK results. RTK on the aircraft is either built-in or manually mounted. The RTK system on the aircraft communicates with the ground station and satellites to provide the exact real-time location of the aircraft which will stay up to date during the flight. The ground system’s location must be updated every time it is moved in order to give the required results and cannot be moved if the aircraft is in the air. Keep reading to find out the benefits of an aircraft with RTK. RTK Explained
Benefits of RTKThe key benefit of an aircraft using RTK is the pinpoint accuracy of the aircraft during flight. You and the aircraft know it’s specific location at all times resulting in exact hovering, even during high winds. An aircraft having such precise accuracy is an amazing feature as it allows pilots to operate in small spaces and close to objects. Further to this, steady hovering and movement allows pilots to obtain meticulously gather data without issues with the aircraft moving. Further to the centimetre accuracy, the RTK provides protection from interference from radio frequency (RF) and electromagnetic fields (EMF). Interference of this kind may occur when flying your aircraft close to power lines, radio towers, large metal structure, etc. This is likely to be required for enterprise pilots, especially within industrial applications. Interference from RF and EMF can cause a loss of GPS, resulting in the aircraft entering ATTI mode. ATTI mode can cause significant disruption to the flight of your aircraft and could result in a flyaway or drone crash. This is particularly dangerous if flying close to obstructions. Another useful feature of RTK is the accurate geotagging of the information the aircraft captures. This includes both images and video which will be tagged with the aircraft’s location for future use. It’s clear that RTK in drones can result in valuable benefits for enterprise users. Keep reading for the specific applications that RTK benefits.
Compatible DroneCurrently, there are two drone series from DJI that feature RTK. The Matrice 200 RTK (M200 RTK) from the M200 series and the Matrice 600 series (M600), in the standard and pro versions. The M210 RTK is the drone with the highest spec from the M200 series. It is a versatile drone series with quadcopters capable of flight in extreme weather, dual battery redundancy and with dual and top-mounted camera setup available with a range of payloads. The aircraft are made for industrial applications and compatible with cameras such as the Zenmuse XT and Zenmuse Z30. The RTK on the aircraft is set up by mounting an additional antenna to the top of the aircraft and used with a Datalink Pro ground station. For more information on the M200 series, please visit our aircraft comparison here. The M600 and M600 Pro are powerful hexacopters made for cinematography and industrial applications. They feature a six-battery setup and is designed for heavy payloads including use with the Ronin MX and cameras including a RED Epic and Hasselblad A5D. The RTK is purchased separately and mounted to the top of the aircraft and used with a Datalink Pro ground station. More information can be found here.
ApplicationsNow that we’ve looked at what RTK is, its benefits and an aircraft using it in action, we will consider how this translates into use in a range of industries.
Telecommunication InspectionThe use of drones, especially drones featuring RTK, have revolutionised the telecommunications industry through the massive improvement of inspections. Drones allow pilots to reach quickly heights that previously required a difficult and length setup that potentially put workers at risk. It is suggested an M210 RTK or M600 Pro is used with a Zenmuse Z30 setup. This setup provides accurate identification of faults on mobile towers without the worry of interference with the aircraft’s signal. Detailed images can also be taken with stable hovering without issues with the aircraft moving.
Powerline InspectionPowerline inspection has also seen a huge development since drones have been incorporated into the industry. Safety has been massively increased along with productivity during inspections. A recommended setup of an M210 RTK or M600 Pro with a Zenmuse Z30 and Zenmuse XT. The RTK in the aircraft will combat electromagnetic interference from the power lines allowing the uninterrupted flight of your drone. If using the M210 RTK, the combined use of the Z30 camera with its powerful zoom and the XT with thermal imaging, a huge amount of information can be captured to identify any issues with the powerlines in real-time. Similarly to telecommunication, the output of towers inspected can be hugely increased through the use of drones, especially when using a dual camera setup for more information.
Offshore Rig InspectionMaintenance of offshore rigs is vital to ensure the safety of workers. Using drones to complete the inspections can again save time and provide accurate information safely. A setup of an M210 or M600 with a Zenmuse X4S or Z30 is recommended. The RTK allows flight without interference from the rig and the cameras can provide accurate information from a distance and in smaller spaces.
Mapping and SurveyingUsing drones for mapping and surveying can significantly reduce the time taken and improve the accuracy of the results given. An M210 and M600 Pro can both be used with a number of the compatible cameras, dependent on your site, however, the Zenmuse X4S is particularly good as an all-rounder for mapping and surveying. The RTK is useful for improving the vertical accuracy of information gathered, especially if surveying stockpile etc. If using an aircraft without RTK, inaccurate information could be collected with the slightest height discrepancy. Accuracy can also be increased when mapping and surveying through the combination of waypoints and RTK. Using waypoints creates autonomous flight by the aircraft on a pre-selected course. RTK ensures the aircraft stays on the course both horizontally and vertically, allowing for repeated flights on the same course. This gives a much higher quality of results of your data, and any changes to sites can correctly be seen. The use of geotagging of data can also be used, a valuable tool for some drone pilots in mapping and surveying.
CinematographyDrones as a tool in filmmaking has rapidly increased over the past few years. It’s hard to find a film or TV show that has recently been produced that doesn’t feature at least one shot that was recorded on a drone. An M600 Pro with a cinema style camera such as a RED camera is an ideal setup. The RTK video production is a great feature as it allows pilots to have as many takes as they require, in the exact same position, a must for film production. Precise hovering also gives clear and steady shots whilst filming, give pilots the best results.
SummaryHaving a drone with built-in RTK has huge benefits for enterprise users. Not only is the aircraft more accurate in vertical and horizontal flight whilst moving and hovering, it can also go in areas that would previously have interfered with a drone. If you’re an enterprise level drone pilot who works in energy, construction, infrastructure or media, a drone with RTK may benefit you as a pilot and give you more accurate results and increase performance and safety in your field.
If you have any questions on RTK drones and how it may benefit you, give our team a call on 0191 296 1024 or email us at email@example.com.
Keep checking back to Heliguy’s Insider Blog for more announcements, insights into drones and, of course, the latest news from the drone industry.