Low-cost GNSS-R altimetry on a UAV for water-level measurements at arbitrary times and locations

Kaoru Ichikawa, Takuji Ebinuma, Masanori Konda, Kei Yufu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Together with direct Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) signals, the signals reflected at the water surface can be received by an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). From the range difference between two GNSS signal paths, the height of the UAV above the water level can be geometrically estimated using the weighted least squares method, called GNSS reflectometry (GNSS-R) altimetry. Experimental low-cost GNSS-R altimetry flights with a UAV were conducted at the coast of Lake Biwa, Japan. Although the height estimated by the GNSS-R altimeter included large short-term noises up to 8 m amplitude, it agreed well with the UAV altitude measured by the post-processed kinematic positioning. By selecting better weight functions in the least square method and using sufficient temporal averaging, the GNSS-R altimetry achieved accuracy in the order of 0.01 m if a sufficient number of GNSS satellites with high elevation angles were available. The dependency of the results on the weight functions is also discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number998
JournalSensors (Switzerland)
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Instrumentation
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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