RTK Signals Transitioning to RTK Service
With the launch of the first global positioning satellite, the proverbial snowball rolling down a mountain was put into motion. It continues to gather speed and mass. What started as a national defense measure is now the basis for efficient transport of people, goods and services throughout the world. In agriculture it has redefined the application of crop inputs and how equipment is operated. With the dawning of the age of autonomous vehicles (See AP December 2011), it is integral to reshaping how farming is done, how farms are managed and how AgProfessional readers will service the new style farmers.
Mike Gomes "Accuracy is to a certain sense, addictive," said Mike Gomes, Topcon. "Users will find ways to use the most accurate signals available. As manufacturers put out new products that require better signals and they get adopted, it drives demand for the signals."
It has taken the GPS industry nearly 30 years to get to the current level of signal accuracy. Real-Time Kinematic (RTK) correction signals from base stations and wireless virtual stations, and the addition of the Glonass, Galileo and other global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) as they come online, have strengthened the potential for robust and repeatable signals. With more birds in the sky, it is increasingly less likely that gaps in signal availability will appear.
One sign of the importance of multiple GNSS constellation tracking is its growing availability. Where only Topcon offered it a few years ago, it is rapidly becoming a standard offering from John Deere, Trimble and others. In fact, it was one of the drivers in the Trimble acquisition of OmniStar correction signals service in 2011.
"We wanted the bandwidth to deliver repeatable, 1.5-inch accuracy signals with no need for a modem or radio," explained Chad Pfitzer, Trimble. "OmniStar gave us the ability to integrate the GPS and other GNSS signals for faster and more accurate triangulation. With our CenterPoint RTX product, we can deliver initialization in as little as a minute, while CenterPoint RTK and VRS offer it in less than a minute."
Chad Pfitzer As new uses for highest accuracy signals have come online, faster initialization, constant availability and repeatability are increasingly becoming “must-haves” for users. Introduction of technologies such as auto-steering, boom section and planter row shut-offs have created growing demand from progressive farmers and their service providers. John Deere's Machine Sync, AGCO's Direct Connect and Kinze's autonomous planter and grain cart are just the opening salvos of the latest revolution in agriculture, and all require dependable high quality signals.
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