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Advancements in Surveying: GNSS/GPS and Robotic Technology

The field of surveying has seen remarkable advancements, particularly with the integration of Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) and Global Positioning System (GPS) technologies, along with robotic surveying instruments. These innovations have significantly enhanced the accuracy and efficiency of surveying processes, transforming traditional methods. These cutting-edge tools have not only enhanced the accuracy and efficiency of surveying processes but have opened new possibilities for data collection and analysis. In this blog, we will explore how GNSS/GPS and robotic technology are revolutionizing modern surveying, providing unmatched precision and convenience for professionals in various industries

What is robotic surveying?

Land surveying has long been a critical part of engineering and development, as a deep understanding of the 3D positions of points is essential for land development. In the 21st century, this field is undergoing a transformation with the advent of robotic surveying. Robotic surveying involves the use of automated systems, such as robotic total stations, to perform various survey tasks with minimal human intervention. These advanced devices, equipped with motors and onboard computers, can automatically follow a surveyor’s target or prism, continuously tracking its position to measure distances, angles, and elevations with high precision. This automation enables faster data collection, increased accuracy, and the ability to conduct surveys in challenging environments. Tasks such as mapping, drone path planning, and topographical surveys are now efficiently handled by these autonomous survey robots. Overall, robotic surveying is revolutionizing modern geospatial practices.

GPS/GNSS in surveying

GPS/GNSS surveying utilizes Global Positioning System (GPS) and Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) to determine precise locations on the Earth’s surface. This technology leverages a network of satellites, including GPS (United States), GLONASS (Russia), Galileo (European Union), and BeiDou (China), which transmit signals to ground-based receivers. These receivers calculate exact positions based on the time it takes for the signals to arrive. By using signals from multiple satellite constellations, GNSS surveying offers enhanced accuracy, reliability, and coverage compared to GPS alone.

This method replaces traditional optical and mechanical surveying techniques that relied on theodolites and distance measuring equipment for angular and linear measurements. GNSS surveying provides real-time positional data over large areas, making it invaluable for applications such as mapping, construction, agriculture, and environmental monitoring. Its ability to offer precise, real-time data ensures efficient and accurate land measurement and data collection, significantly advancing modern surveying practices.

How do they work?

The GPS/GNSS used in the surveying industry is more complex than the satellite navigation technology common to everyday life. GNSS technology is used in conjunction with existing GPS systems to determine precise location positioning anywhere on the Earth. Though both global navigation systems work together, GNSS equipment works on a larger scale. GNSS-compatible equipment can utilize signals from navigational satellites in networks outside the GPS system.

Both GNSS and GPS consist of three primary elements:

  • Satellites
  • Ground control stations
  • Receivers

Satellites send continuous radio signals toward Earth, picked up by GPS and GNSS receivers. The ground control stations that monitor the GNSS track the satellites, updating their positions so information can be transmitted from Earth back to the satellites.

How robotics impact surveying


Robotic surveying offers numerous advantages that significantly enhance the efficiency, accuracy, and safety of surveying tasks. Some of the key benefits include:

  1. Speed and Efficiency: One advantage of robotics in land surveying is there speed and efficiency. A traditional survey can take anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks, depending on the area’s size. Robotic surveying systems, such as robotic total stations, automate many of the tasks that traditionally required manual intervention. This automation allows for much faster data collection, enabling surveyors to cover larger areas in less time. Modern tools have made it much more efficient to measure land and make calculations. speed and efficiency gained through these systems help in completing projects quicker and meeting tight deadlines
  2. Accuracy and Precision: Robotic systems aren’t only faster than people — they also tend to be more accurate. Advanced sensors and automated systems in robotic surveying instruments provide high levels of accuracy and precision. These devices can measure distances, angles, and elevations with minimal human error, ensuring that the data collected is reliable and highly accurate. This precision is critical for applications where exact measurements are essential, such as in construction and engineering projects.
  3. Productivity: Automation is raising the bar for productivity standards in industries worldwide. By automating repetitive tasks and reducing the need for manual data collection, robotic surveying significantly boosts productivity. Surveyors can accomplish more in less time, allowing them to focus on analyzing data and making informed decisions rather than spending extensive time in the field. This increased productivity translates to cost savings and more efficient project management.
  4. Safety: Land surveyors are often the first to navigate new terrain, which can lead to unexpected hazards. Robotic surveying enhances safety by reducing the need for surveyors to physically access hazardous or difficult-to-reach areas. For example, drones and ground-based robots can conduct surveys in dangerous environments, such as unstable terrains or busy highways, minimizing the risk to human workers. This capability is particularly valuable in ensuring the safety of personnel on challenging sites.
  5. Flexible Navigation: Robotic survey systems are highly adaptable and can navigate various terrains and environments. Whether in urban areas with complex infrastructure or remote, rugged landscapes, these systems can perform effectively. Their ability to adapt to different conditions makes them versatile tools for a wide range of surveying applications.

With offices in Ohio and Kentucky, the pros at Viox & Viox are here to assist you with your next project that requires GNSS/GPS and robotic technology or other surveying needs. Get in touch with us today!