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Trimble offers direct georeferencing GNSS/inertial for UAVs

October 2, 2017  - By

Trimble is offering three new GNSS-inertial systems for direct georeferencing on unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs): the Trimble APX-15-EI UAV, Trimble APX-18 UAV and Trimble APX-20 UAV.

Direct georeferencing with the systems allows the location of image elements collected by lidar and hyperspectral sensors to be accurately computed without extensive networks of ground control points, reducing costs while maintaining accuracy to produce maps.

The APX products use state-of-the-art low noise, multi-frequency Trimble Maxwell GNSS technology, and track all current satellite signals including GPS L1/L2/L2C/L5 and GLONASS L1/L2, QZSS, BeiDou, IRNSS and Galileo, supporting SBAS, RTK and Trimble CenterPoint RTX positioning modes.

The APX-15-EI UAV features dual inertial measurement units (IMU); one embedded onto the GNSS-inertial board that is mounted on the UAV airframe with the GNSS antenna, and one that is mounted on an external sensor contained in a gimballed mount.

With this feature, the APX-15-EI UAV can compute two sets of orientations — the UAV airframe and the gimballed mount —  enabling automatic, precise positioning of the sensor without requiring an external interface to the gimballed mount or autopilot.

The APX-20 GNSS-inertial board by Applanix.

The APX-18 UAV is a single-board GNSS-inertial solution that supports two-antenna heading for the highest accuracy in low-speed multi-rotor survey applications such as building facade scanning. Measuring  10 x 6 centimeters and weighing 62 grams, the APX-18 UAV uses on-board inertial sensors calibrated with the Applanix SmartCal software compensation technology for superior performance in a small, compact form for UAVs.

To meet the higher accuracy demands driven by the allowance of higher altitude, beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) UAV flights and the introduction of higher resolution, larger format imaging sensors, Trimble has developed the APX-20 UAV.

Also featuring dual IMUs for automatic gimballed mount support, the APX-20 UAV uses a new, MEMS-based lightweight external IMU with unparalleled performance. With a total weight of less than 425 grams, the APX-20 UAV provides high performance without sacrificing flight time.

“We are very pleased to announce these new additions to our portfolio of products for Direct Georeferencing on UAVs,” said Joe Hutton, director of inertial technology and airborne products at Applanix, a Trimble Company. “We have listened to our customers and worked very hard to come up with solutions that meet their needs, both from a technical and cost perspective.”

All APX products include the Applanix POSPac UAV post-processing software for generation of high-accuracy carrier-phase differential GNSS-inertial position and orientation for highest accuracy map products.

POSPac UAV supports single GNSS base-station processing with automatic coordinate survey using Trimble CenterPoint RTX, multi-single base station processing, and Applanix SmartBase Virtual Reference Station processing (optional), as well as the Trimble CenterPoint RTX post-processing trajectory generation available as a subscription.

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About the Author: Tracy Cozzens

Senior Editor Tracy Cozzens joined GPS World magazine in 2006. She also is editor of GPS World’s newsletters and the sister website Geospatial Solutions. She has worked in government, for non-profits, and in corporate communications, editing a variety of publications for audiences ranging from federal government contractors to teachers.