There are many different types of machine control systems on the market today so weaving through the sales patter and making a decision that best fits your needs without spending, in some cases more than the machine itself, is not an easy task.
To break it all down to types – there are 3DDual Antenna GNSS Systems, 3D Robotic Control Systems, Single Antenna GNSS systems and 2D Systems. These systems can be fitted to almost any machine either with or without hydraulic control.
Many of the 3D Systems that are on the market today are the Dual Antenna GNSS RTK receivers. These monitor position via a correction from a known UHF base station or reference NTRIP system, giving the system dual corrected positions. The separation between the two GNSS Antennas allows the system to constantly calculate the heading value via the base line. The Dual GNSS RTK is the most common in Australia and is the most expensive way of achieving the correct results with GNSS Receivers.
The 3D Robotic System is the next popular system available, which is mainly used with graders working on major infrastructure projects. These projects require much finer tolerances than pure GNSS systems can offer. This is the main reason this system is used, but it can be fitted to small machines where the high accuracy is required. Sometimes the high cost of this system deters the cost benefit for the smaller projects and machines.
The Single GNSS RTK System gives a single corrected fixed position. With combination of integrated sensors, this provides real time position and level. This process is much simpler and cheaper than using dual survey GNSS RTK receivers, but there is no compromise in the quality of the position and heading information being provided to the system.
The final option has been long forgotten due to the hype around 3D. There is still a major place in the market for 2D systems for excavators, skid steers, graders, dozers and most other machines. The 2D Systems provide most of what the 3D machine control provides at a fraction of the price.
In conclusion make sure you ask all of the right questions when you are deciding on your next Machine Control System so you buy the right equipment for the correct machine for your site application.