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Oct 25, 2016 | News

Swift Navigation gives drones more precision and control with Piksi Multi


Swift Navigation, a GPS positioning technology provider, wants to give drone operators precise navigation with the release of the new Piksi Multi. Piksi Multi is a multi-band, multi-constellation high-precision GNSS receiver.

“With the launch of Piksi Multi, Swift is taking another huge step forward in delivering affordable and highly precise GNSS technology,” said Swift Navigation’s CEO Timothy Harris. “No one else is able to offer the centimeter-accuracy, enhanced availability and fast convergence times at such a low cost. Piksi Multi will continue to revolutionize the autonomous devices category, which is growing at an unbelievable rate.”

Piksi Multi is the next generation of Swift’s previous solution, Piksi. Previously the system was only a single-band, single-constellation GPS system. According to Rob Hranac, vice president of business development at Swift Navigation, a lot of GPS systems typically provide single-band and single-constellation systems. What that means is that they are capable of reading one signal from GPS satellites. With a single-band, single-constellation system, users also suffer from a lengthy start time to get the system going, and they need really good sky view conditions to obtain for centimeter-accurate positioning.

A multi-band, multi-constellation system allows users to have centimeter-accurate positioning modes in seconds, and it keep the high-precision fix in a much wider range of environments, Hranac explained. In addition, the system can read satellites from the four major global constellations. “It is a massive leap forward from our previous generation of product,” Hranac said. “It is tailor-made for UAV systems from an algorithm standpoint; it is much more accessible from a cost standpoint; and it is much more open in terms of the platform itself.”

The two common drone use cases for Piksi Multi are precision survey and precision control. With Piksi Multi, users can achieve precision surveying by being able to create an orthomosaic or 3D model of a field or site with centimeter-level accuracy. For instance, it can be used to monitor a construction site.

For precision control, the system can help avoid other drones in the air, comply with FAA regulations, and autonomously land their drones.

“The current GPS systems are really made for people to navigate, not machines,” said Hranac. “The enthusiasm we have around this area is just helping robotics systems localize to level up what they need to function out in the real world.”

In addition, the system is future-proof, and will continue to improve with software updates from Swift. “Our focus is taking this hardware platform and iterating on it for the drone community,” said Hranac. “You will see all-new features come out that will enable the drone community. This is really a future-proof platform for drone operators to put on their systems, and it is really an affordable platform for the first time to have a multi-band RTK system on a drone.”