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International Journal of Aerospace Engineering
Volume 2016 (2016), Article ID 1259893, 11 pages
Research Article

Flight-Test Evaluation of Kinematic Precise Point Positioning of Small UAVs

Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV 26506, USA

Received 3 March 2016; Revised 3 June 2016; Accepted 15 June 2016

Academic Editor: Paolo Tortora

Copyright © 2016 Jason N. Gross et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


An experimental analysis of Global Positioning System (GPS) flight data collected onboard a Small Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (SUAV) is conducted in order to demonstrate that postprocessed kinematic Precise Point Positioning (PPP) solutions with precisions approximately 6 cm 3D Residual Sum of Squares (RSOS) can be obtained on SUAVs that have short duration flights with limited observational periods (i.e., only ~≤5 minutes of data). This is a significant result for the UAV flight testing community because an important and relevant benefit of the PPP technique over traditional Differential GPS (DGPS) techniques, such as Real-Time Kinematic (RTK), is that there is no requirement for maintaining a short baseline separation to a differential GNSS reference station. Because SUAVs are an attractive platform for applications such as aerial surveying, precision agriculture, and remote sensing, this paper offers an experimental evaluation of kinematic PPP estimation strategies using SUAV platform data. In particular, an analysis is presented in which the position solutions that are obtained from postprocessing recorded UAV flight data with various PPP software and strategies are compared to solutions that were obtained using traditional double-differenced ambiguity fixed carrier-phase Differential GPS (CP-DGPS). This offers valuable insight to assist designers of SUAV navigation systems whose applications require precise positioning.