Analysis: Topographic Survey with Total Station or with GNSS RTK?

Posted on January 31, 2023

Estacion total versus gnss x5 mettatec

In this opportunity we will make a comparison between a Topographic Survey with Total Station or with GNSS RTK, for this we will use three main indicators:

  • Accuracy Comparison
  • Time Comparison
  • Cost Comparison

What is a Topographic Survey?

It is the first phase of the technical and descriptive study of a terrain, where you can observe the physical, geographical, geological characteristics, variations or alterations and operations to be able to measure, process and transmit the data of the terrain to a plane with a reduced scale.

To carry out the graphical representation of a terrain, it is necessary to establish the relative positions of several points. It is necessary to assign coordinates that are: latitude, longitude and elevation. A map projection can also be assigned to facilitate the different measurements.

Planimetric topographic survey:

Set of methods and procedures, through which the scale representation of the points and details of the terrain on a flat surface is obtained, regardless of its relief and which is represented in a horizontal projection.

Altimetric topographic survey:

Its objective is to determine the difference in heights between different points of space with respect to the plane that is being used as a reference. This type of survey reflects contour lines in a plane.

The most frequent instruments that are needed to carry out a topographic survey and to be able to make a correct measurement of angles, slopes, distances and coordinates, in order to achieve an optimal and effective work are: The Total Station and GNSS Receivers – RTK.

Now a question arises:

Which is better? A Topographic Survey with Total Station or with GNSS RTK?

It is necessary to emphasize that the most important feature in this modification is the capture process, as well as the graphic representation of them, and in turn the precision and speed with which they are executed.

Accuracy Comparison

The Total Station turns out to be a more accurate equipment at short distances (<2 – 5km) and it is also possible to measure points that the RTK fails to reach, for example, in tunnels. While the GNSS – RTK, with respect to short distances reaches an accuracy of 2 – 3 cm, and in long distances it is greater precision since it can reach up to 20 kilometers.

Time Comparison

In GNSS – RTK can be georeferenced points with real coordinates, it presents a very fast way for lifting and staking. It definitely presents a great advantage over the Total Station.

Cost Comparison

The price of a Total Station varies due to the brand you choose, accuracy and features. So, the most basic equipment is priced from USD $ 2,195 to USD $ 13,670. Also the GNSS – RTK varies due to the brand, model and characteristics of the antenna and receiver, its prices range from USD$ 5,950 to USD$ 2 0,000. The initial investment can be more expensive with a GNSS – RTK, but the advantages are many when carrying out a topographic survey.

With this article we wanted to make a comparison between a Topographic Survey with Total Station and with GNSS RTK, also if you are looking for a Equipment that meets all the requirements to carry out a demanding project and at an affordable cost we recommend our X5 Multi-band GNSS Receiver. An innovative and high precision equipment.

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