Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Systems Engineering


Department of Systems Engineering and Management

First Advisor

David R. Jacques, PhD.


Along with the growing uses for small unmanned aerial systems (UAS) within the Department of Defense (DoD), is the utility of small UAS within the civilian market is also increasing. This has led to significant research and development on small UAS subsystems by the commercial market. The focus of this research is characterizing and investigating the application considerations of a small, low-cost real time kinematic (RTK) GPS receiver system. Work was also accomplished to characterize the accuracy and precision of the commonly used GPS receiver subsystem in small UAS to show the increased utility of the RTK GPS system. The results show that in a static environment, the RTK GPS system outperforms the commonly used standalone GPS receiver by a factor of 100 in two- and three-dimensional precision. However, the results from the tests involving a moving platform exposed several limitations which can degrade the precision of the RTK GPS system to precision values achievable by a standalone GPS receiver. These limitations do not inhibit the RTK GPS system’s ability to perform its primary intended purpose, and can be mitigated through proper integration and application selection of the system. It is recommended that the Air Force Institute of Technology continue to use the investigated RTK GPS system as a ground truth source while proving other navigation technologies for UAS flight.

AFIT Designator


DTIC Accession Number