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How Drone GPS Navigation Works


There are several sizes of drones and the largest of them which includes the Predator drone can be found in the military sector. The next sized drones are mostly referred to as the unmanned aircrafts known to have fixed wings and requires a short runway before take-off. These devices are sent to several territories and are used for several purposes, all thanks majorly to the GPS embedded in them.

Many of the most recently manufactured drones are equipped with not one, but two navigational systems; GPS and GLONASS.

The importance of a highly accurate navigational system in a drone used for surveying landscapes, creating 3D maps, delivery, search and rescue, and more, cannot be overstated.

When a drone equipped with a global navigational system, it first searches and detects satellites when it is turned on. The most high-end navigational system is known to use the satellite constellation technology which can be described as a group of satellites connected giving coordinated and synchronized coverage to ensure they are very well overlapped in pass. Pass can also be described as the period during which a satellite is visible above your local horizon.

The remote controller display that comes with your drones receives the signal from the radar technology which triggers the following;

– It triggers the remote controller display to display the current position, as well as the location of the drone about the drone pilot.

– Calculate and record the home point to prepare the Return to Home safety feature.

– It detects when enough global navigational satellites have been detected enough for it to take flight.

The return to home feature is one of the amazing features that is made possible by GPS. It is a safety action that helps the drone automatically find its way home. There are majorly three factors that trigger Return to Home drone technology, among which includes;

– When the transmission is lost between the remote controller and the unmanned air vehicle itself. This triggers the drone to fly back to its recorded home point by itself automatically.

– Pilots can also initiate this feature by pressing the assigned return to the home button on the controller or in the application.

  • When the battery of the unmanned air vehicle reaches an average level (low battery), it automatically makes use of the conserved battery to fly back home.

Most of the drones equipped with GPS are also capable of sensing and avoiding obstacles during automatic flights. Depending on the drone, Mavic Air RTH slows down after sensing the obstacle, stops and hover before flying back, then upward until it no longer senses an obstacle. The drone then returns to its normal speed and direction.

The detection sensor responsible scans the surrounding while other software algorithms and the SLAM technology produces a 3D mapped image allowing the flight controller sense and avoid the object. The number of sensors that may be responsible for this feature in a drone may include, but is not limited to;

• Time of Flight (ToF)

• Ultrasonic

• Vision Sensor

• Lidar

• Monocular Vision

• Infrared


A few more electronic parts are needed to fly:

Flight controller

This is generally the UAV’s motherboard. It’s responsible for every command that is issued to a UAV by the operator. It interprets the input from GPS module, battery monitor, onboard sensors and the receiver. Additionally, it’s responsible for regulating the speeds of the motors through the electric speed controller and drone steering. Some of the commands that it controls include; controlling autopilot mode, triggering the camera plus other autonomous tasks.


This is a unit that is responsible for receiving radio signals that are sent to an unmanned aerial vehicle through a controller. To control the drone, there should be at least four channels. Nevertheless, it’s recommended that the provision of five channels should be allocated. There are various kinds of receiver that are currently available, and any of these receivers can be utilized in making the drone.


This refers to a unit that is responsible for transmission of signals of a radio from a controller to an unmanned aerial vehicle to give commands about directions and flight. Just like a receiver of the drone, a transmitter should have four channels although five channels are mostly recommended. You can readily find various receiver types on the market from various drone manufacturers that you can choose from. A transmitter and a receiver should use one radio signal for communicating with the UAV during the flight. All radio signals have standard codes that assist in differentiating the drone’s signals from others that are in the airspace.

GPS module

GPS module takes the responsibility of providing the latitude, points of elevation and longitude of the UAV. It’s an essential component in the UAV since drones wouldn’t be as essential as they currently are without a GPS module. These modules assist the UAV in capturing the specific details about particular locations on the land and successfully navigating for longer distances. Additionally, they are useful in helping the operator in returning a drone ‘home’ safely even without using FPV for navigation. In most current UAVs, the module assists in the safe return of the UAV to its controller if the connection with the controller is lost. This ensures that the UAV is always safe.


This is the drone’s component that makes any reaction and action possible. Without this component, the drone wouldn’t have the power which simply means they would be unable to fly. Various UAVs have been designed with different requirements of the batteries. For instance, the smaller UAVs may require smaller batteries since they require limited power while the bigger UAVs may need bigger batteries that have larger capacities so that they can be able to provide power to all functions in the drones. Additionally, the UAV has the battery monitor which assist in providing information of the battery to the operator about the battery’s performance.


common and cheap drones equipped with the GPS

Autel Robotics X-Star Premium

This a colorful and attractive looking GPS drone which also comes with the GLONASS navigational system which increases its accuracy. This drone is one of the few drones equipped with the dual navigational system at a cheap price. This drone comes with what can be described as an eagle-eyed camera with the full capacity to record 4k quality video with a smooth HD ultra-quality. It also comes with a dual sensor which helps your record with a three-point axis gimbal. This is a drone that can fly at a very wide range of altitude.

It is a fully automatic drone, and it also has an integrated application which can be used in place of the controller.

It is priced between $500 and $1000, and its features include;

• Protection via the magnetic interface.

• Three-axis gamble stabilizer.

• Hd live to view up to 1.2 miles.

• Monitoring via all platform-supported mobile application.

• Dual navigation of GLONASS and GPS.

• 12-megapixel sensor.

• Twenty-five minutes’ flight time.

• 64 GB SD card for two hours recording.

Yuneec 4k Q500 Typhoon

For a very reliable surveillance GPS drone, the Yuneec 4k can serve you well. This is a drone that has been widely referred and talked about. This drone allows you to monitor and record a high quality of 4k/30fps recording capable of capturing the infinitesimal movement in a designated area. The drone comes with a slow motion feature and can be used to take full high definition images. It also comes with the three-axis gimbal which helps you achieve the best recording result.

Like most other drones, this drone also comes with an integrated application which can be used in place of the controller.

It is priced between $750 and $1500, Some of its features includes;

• Can travel up to 25 minutes.

• All angle capture.

• Comes with an automated system of landing, hovering and position holding

• Three-axis gimbal.

• The aluminum finish for lightweight looks.

• Integrated mobile application.

DJI Mavic Pro

The DJI Mavic pro is one of the most common drones, and this is thanks to its amazingly rich features at a relatively low price. It is also a very portable drone that can be folded into a compact size and carried anywhere. It has a 4k quality camera, and its battery life can last for up to 25 minutes. It has a lightning speed of 40mph and can move up to seven kilometers.

It is priced between $250 – $600, and some of its features include;

• An exceptional speed with a turbocharging facility

• FPV goggles.

• Tap and fly at one go.

• Active Fly speedy interface.

• Smooth high definition 4K recording

Upair One

The Upair One is also a quality drone that comes at a relatively low price. It comes with an advanced way point set up as well as a position holder for its landing. It comes with a very sharp and clear aerial shot ability, as well as sharp and clear audio. The battery life of this drone is also exceptional as it can fly nonstop for about 30 minutes.

The price range is between $300 – $500, and some of its features include;

• Travel 500m without any lag.

• Shoot seamlessly at 4K quality recording.

• Power packed accessories for automated functioning.

• LED screen of 7 inches on the controller.

• FPV monitoring.

• Twenty minutes of air time.

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