DJI Rolls out Phantom 4 RTK Surveying Drone

DJI has announced the global rollout of the Phantom 4 RTK, a high-precision drone designed for surveying, mapping and inspection.

According to DJI, a real-time kinematic (RTK) module is integrated directly into the drone, providing real-time, centimeter-level positioning data.

A non-RTK drone requires up to 40 ground control points (GCPs) per square kilometer, which can take several hours to place, explains DJI. On the other hand, the new drone’s features potentially reduce the number of GCPs needed to zero. Sitting beneath the RTK receiver is a redundant GNSS module, installed to maintain flight stability in signal-poor regions, such as dense cities.

The RTK module can provide positioning accuracy of 1cm+1ppm (horizontal) and  1.5cm+1ppm (vertical). In addition, the drone can get 5-centimeter absolute horizontal accuracy of photogrammetric models, says DJI.

“The Phantom 4 RTK was engineered to meet the specific needs of its users who have come to rely on DJI drones as powerful tools for surveying, mapping or inspection operations,” says Sunny Liao, director of enterprise for Europe at DJI. “We took feedback from the drone mapping and surveying market on board and believe this solution demonstrates our commitment to strengthening our involvement and innovation in different enterprise verticals where we see substantial demand and potential for growth.”

To take full advantage of the Phantom 4 RTK’s positioning modules, a new TimeSync system was created to continually align the flight controller, camera and RTK module. Additionally, TimeSync ensures that the Phantom 4 RTK records factory-calibrated lense parameters alongside position, altitude and other data onto each photo, matching the positioning data to the center of the camera’s CMOS sensor and thus optimizing the results from photogrammetric methods, says DJI.

The drone is equipped with a 1-inch, 20-megapixel CMOS sensor. A mechanical shutter allows the Phantom 4 RTK to move while taking pictures without the risk of rolling shutter blur. Due to the high resolution, the Phantom 4 RTK can achieve a ground sample distance (GSD) of 2.74 cm at a flight altitude of 100 meters.

In areas with a lack of RTK coverage, the DJI Phantom 4 RTK allows for the use of post processed kinematics (PPK). The DJI Phantom 4 RTK captures original satellite observation data, as well as the ephemeris data, and stores it in a PPKRAW.bin file in RTCM 3.2 format. Additionally, the drone converts the satellite data on the fly to RINEX format and writes the data into a RINEX.obs file. Thanks to the internal synchronization of the GNSS position and camera, the Timestamp.MRK file provides a precise recording of the image position. All operation-relevant data is stored on a Micro-SD card in a folder for each mission.

Next, according to DJI, the Phantom 4 RTK’s OcuSync video transmission system enables a stable connection between the drone and its remote controller. The system delivers 720p video transmission feeds at a distance of up to 7 km, which is ideal for mapping larger sites, says DJI.

A new GS RTK app allows pilots to control their drone with two planning modes – photogrammetry and waypoint flight – alongside a traditional flight mode. The drone offers a flight time of 30 minutes, but if an area is too large to map on a single battery charge, an operation resumption function of the app automatically resumes the mission after the battery has been replaced.

The Phantom 4 RTK is compatible with the D-RTK 2 Mobile Station, providing real-time differential data to the drone and forming an accurate surveying solution. In addition, the Phantom 4 RTK is compatible with the DJI Mobile SDK, opening up its functions to automation and customization through a mobile device.

The retail price of a Phantom 4 RTK is EUR 5,700 (approximately $6,561), which includes the drone, a remote controller, two intelligent flight batteries, one remote controller intelligent battery, charger hubs for both types of batteries, a power adapter and cable, four propeller pairs, and accessories. The retail price of a bundle, including the Phantom 4 RTK and D-RTK 2 Mobile Station, is EUR 7,800 (approximately $8,979).

The Phantom 4 RTK and D-RTK 2 Mobile Station are available through authorized DJI Enterprise dealers worldwide.

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