What is an RTK receiver?

By Spirent On May 16, 2012
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An RTK receiver is a high-accuracy dual-frequency device that uses the real-time kinematic (RTK) technique for centimetre-level accuracy in surveying applications. The RTK technique uses carrier phase measurements of the GNSS signals, rather than reading the navigation message. Any GNSS can be used, but GPS RTK is also known as carrier-phase enhancement (or CPGPS).

The RTK technique uses at least two GNSS receivers, which are usually connected by UHF radio. One GPS receiver is set up as a fixed basestation while the others operates as roving receivers. In operation, the basestation rebroadcasts the phase of the carrier that it measured, and each mobile unit compares its own phase measurement with that received from the basestation.

Some newer RTK systems use multiple reference stations. And while multiple reference station RTK systems are more complex, they do provide improved performance for users. These systems allow users to combine the estimated measurement errors at each of the reference stations, thereby providing more reliable positional data. The systems are also more robust in that network data is still available even if an individual reference station might be missing from the network.

RTK systems are widely used in both land-based and marine surveying applications. In such systems the basestation is positioned at a known surveyed location, while the mobile units can produce a highly accurate map by taking fixes relative to that point. RTK has also found uses in autodrive systems, autopilot systems and precision agriculture.

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