GeoCue’s GNSS kit for drones provides survey-level accuracy

August 7, 2017  - By 0 Comments

GeoCue Group has released a GNSS positioning system that will allow users of DJI Phantom 4 Pros and Inspire 2 drones, as well as most drones using higher end cameras, to achieve survey-level accuracy with minimum ground control.

Loki, GeoCue’s new direct geopositioning system for small unmanned aerial systems, solves the two fundamental problems associated with this technology:

  • Positioning Accuracy. Loki uses the new AsteRx-m2 multi-frequency, multi-constellation GNSS engine from Septentrio, which has 448 hardware channels.
  • Camera Events. GeoCue has invented a patent-pending method of detecting camera events from Phantoms/Inspires and synchronizing those events to GNSS positioning. No modifications to the drone are necessary; the adapter cable is “plug and play.”

GeoCue’s Loki positioning kit uses the Septentrio AsteRx-m2 GNSS engine.

Loki is a self-contained kit that provides all of the hardware and software needed to equip a drone with a post-processed kinematic (PPK) multifrequency, multi-constellation, differential, carrier-phase GNSS.

Using a local base station (not included), Loki provides centimeter-level positioning with minimal, and in some cases, no ground-control points (though GCPs are always recommended for quality assurance).

“GeoCue has been a long-time Septentrio OEM development partner,” said Neil Vancans, vice president of Septentrio Americas. “They have offered our previous generation sUAS board on their high-end AV-900, achieving remarkable results in both accuracy and reliability. By solving the problem of connecting the virtual camera trigger on DJI drones to our AsteRx-m2 GNSS engine, they can achieve professional mapping accuracies with consumer-grade UAVs.”

DroneDeploy of San Francisco has become a leader in cloud-based processing for DJI, as well as other drones. DroneDeploy has enabled users of Phantom and Inspire drones to easily upload drone images, work online with analytics, and download point clouds and orthophotos to desktops for advanced processing.

Without Loki, achieving acceptable network accuracy requires the time-consuming placement of ground-control targets throughout the mapping site.

GeoCue and DroneDeploy have been working together to ensure a smooth Loki-DroneDeploy workflow from field to finish.

“The GeoCue Loki system is an exciting product for anyone using drones to make maps with high accuracy,” said Mike Winn, CEO and co-founder of DroneDeploy. “The Loki’s combination of high-end GNSS positioning and DJI camera synchronization enables survey-grade accuracy with the simplest workflow that we’ve seen — making the Loki a great fit for the DroneDeploy platform.”

“I am very excited to be working with industry leaders such as DroneDeploy on our Loki project,” said Lewis Graham, president and CTO of GeoCue Group. “Loki provides high accuracy positional data to downstream processing solutions. More significantly, it does this for DJI Phantom 4 Pro and Inspire 2 drones. Combining DJI, Loki and cloud processing solutions such as DroneDeploy provides a very streamlined and cost effective solution for high accuracy site surveys.”

The Loki kit includes:

  • Loki PPK Controller using the Septentrio AsteRx-m2 GNSS engine (GPS L1, L2, L5 and GLONASS L1, L2, L3, 448 hardware channels).
  • Maxtena M1227HCT-A2-SMA high performance, active, multiband GNSS antenna
  • Antenna ground plane with mounting kit
  • Antenna to controller cable
  • USB cable for data transfer and Loki controller charging
  • Personality cable (user selects either DJI or DSLR)
  • AirGon ASP software suite
  • Mounting kits for DJI Inspire 2 and Phantom 4 Pro
  • 1 year of maintenance and technical support

Loki requires a local multifrequency base station (not included but available from GeoCue). Loki is shipping to early adopter customers in August 2017. It will be available for the general market in September 2017.

It will release with direct support for DroneDeploy and AirGon’s Bring Your Own Drone (BYOD) Mapping Kit. Loki’s introductory price will be USD $4,995. GeoCue is currently accepting preorders.

Loki will be on display September 6-8 at the InterDrone 2017 conference in Las Vegas and at Commercial UAV Expo, also in Las Vegas, October 24-26. A workshop dedicated to high accuracy mapping with DJI drones using Loki is being held in conjunction with the Commercial UAV Expo. Register at www.expouav.com.

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