Construction Plant Control Using RTK GPS: Case Study

Gethin Wyn Roberts, Oluropo Ogundipe, Alan Dodson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


For many years, various plant control systems have been developed, these include using laser levels to control the height of bulldozers’ blades, paving machines and graders to a precision of a centimetre or so. In addition, systems are available that use servo driven total stations to control the plan and height component of a bulldozer to a centimetre. The use of GPS for construction plant control and guidance is a hot topic in the world of geomatics. Research has been underway for many years into this area, mainly based on using such RTK GPS systems on bulldozers. GPS allows real time centimetre positioning that allows the bulldozer’s driver to operate the machinery in a semi-autonomous manner. GPS has the advantage over the laser system in that a 3D position is obtained, rather than only the height component.

Research has been underway at the University of Nottingham for a number of years, investigating the use of GPS for such an application. The research focuses on using RTK GPS for both bulldozer and excavator control. The latest stage of this research includes the investigation of using the Trimble SiteVision system.

The following paper details the work conducted at the University of Nottingham, using a Trimble SiteVision system. The work conducted focuses on both controlled trials as well as field trials. An extensive series of real life trials have been conducted, whereby a bulldozer, using the system, was used to re-shape a 100m x 50m piece of ground. The ground was farmed in the middle ages using a system called ridge and furrow, whereby long ridges, typically 0.5m in depth were created in the field in order to store rain water and hence provide continuous irrigation. The field, however, is now part of a recreation area, and was planned to turn the field into a cricket field, hence it was required to level the area. The system used was a manual version of the system, whereby the driver is indicated by the system when to raise or lower the blade. The trial was very successful, whereby the SiteVision system was fitted onto a bulldozer and used to level the field, by incorporating a design into the onboard computer. Centimetric precision was obtained, and checked by surveying the area after the trial had taken place.

The work involved, as well as the results are detailed in the paper.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 15th International Technical Meeting of the Satellite Division of The Institute of Navigation (ION GPS 2002)
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2002


  • GPS
  • Construction plant control
  • Multipath
  • Zero baseline


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