How Propeller PPK Improves GCP-based Drone Surveying

If you use drones to survey your site, you’ve probably heard talk about new PPK and RTK drone technology. We explained how this tech works in a prior blog, but since everyone is coming to this technology from different places, we thought it’d be more helpful to explain how PPK workflows can change your existing operations.

This is the second post in a three-part series. Here, we’ll explain how a PPK workflow can improve drone surveying operations if you’re using traditional ground control points.

You can also read about how PPK changes operations when you’re using AeroPoints as GCPs or if you haven’t surveyed with drones at all.


Get huge time savings with PPK surveying

survey grade accuracy for drones Say goodbye to all that empty setup time. Being familiar with drone surveying, you know that it cuts days off typical surveying workflows because data gathering and processing is much faster. Drones are easy to operate and drone data processing platforms like Propeller are cloud-based, which means no more downloading complex, hardware- and labor-intensive software to do the processing. 

With a PPK solution, your drone becomes more than just a vessel for the camera, it can take and record precise positional data from the air. This drastically cuts the need for ground control. In fact, all you need is one known point or a base station on the ground, which you can keep nearby. A single AeroPoint, with its GPS capabilities and automatic data upload, can act as a passive base.

The process of surveying your site by drone with Propeller’s PPK workflow cuts down on the time-consuming process of ground control planning and placement. It also takes warping out of your 3D surveys, which can happen when ground control isn’t properly distributed or isn’t in place at all and severely affect survey accuracy.


PPK drone surveying changes the need for ground control

For the smallest and most simple sites, you still have to strategize placement to ensure viable data gathering.

Once that’s done, physically traversing your site on foot or by vehicle and laying out all the GCPs (usually no less than 10) adds risk and complexity. You have to worry about traffic management, sending personnel on to an active site, and proper ground control layout.

For large or irregular sites, the same strategizing takes place, but the physical processing of laying out points can be longer than ever. Walking or driving the site could take hours, all before you’ve even fired up your drone.

With a PPK workflow, all that above complication is unnecessary. An RTK-enabled drone has the hardware to determine its position in flight, thus providing vital geotagged data for site imagery. And with just one AeroPoint on solid ground acting as a passive base to process your data in a PPK workflow, you can achieve survey-grade accuracy without all the setup.

improve drone surveying accuracy


A simple end-to-end surveying workflow

To get accuracy of 1/10th of a foot, it’s as simple as setting up an AeroPoint near your takeoff location. (If you’re working in a local grid, that GCP needs to be on a known point.) You still need to map out your drone’s flight route, of course, by there’s no need to hike all over site to lay out ground control.

After the flight’s been flown, the process is the simple data upload you’re used to with drone surveying technology: upload the imagery and ground data to Propeller. We do all the processing and correction and you get an accurate, 3D site survey within 24 hours.


Propeller PPK provides a survey-grade solution

No matter where you’re starting at with your drone operations, Propeller PPK can improve your workflows because at the end of the day, all you want is confidence in your end survey accuracy.

Propeller PPK gives you data you can trust and a workflow that eliminates points of failure associated with inconsistent ground control layout, thus closing the drone surveying loop .

Add in the reliability of industry-favorite drone maker, DJI, and the full integration of Propeller’s software and hardware, and you get an easy-to-use survey-grade workflow without the complexity of traditional surveying setups.

Check out Propeller PPK at and download our ebook, The New Survey-Grade Work Tool: Propeller PPK and AeroPoints, to learn more about using PPK on your worksite today.

The New Survey Grade Accuracy Tool: Propeller PPK to AeroPoints



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