MIT scientists have developed a drone system that helps to automatize inventory

14 September 2017
MIT scientists have developed a drone system that helps to automatize inventory

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology fellows have presented the RFLy system that helps drones to scan RFID marks and allows quick inventory at warehouses. The new product permits owners of warehouses to automatize and optimize the process of goods identification.

The system works in a pretty simple way: each item or package has radioactive marks (RFID) scanned by a special device on a drone. The similar method is already used at warehouses. However, it allows to detect only marks placed in close proximity, which hinders the identification of goods located under other items. Scanning devices simply do not recognize a mark. That is why extra manual work is needed. Obviously, a manual method is not effective and in most cases, manufacturers and retailers lose goods at warehouses.

RFly is more powerful. It gets the signal at a distance of more than 50 m with a precision of 19 cm even if an item is hidden behind other packages. This power is due to the signal retransmission from a scanning device to a drone and then to a mark. The retransmitting drone provides two-way radiocommunication and helps to define the object location more precisely.

RFly can be integrated into the existing accounting system. It means that a company doesn’t have to replace RFID marks on all goods.

To test the system, the scientists set it on a 0.5 kg drone whose battery is designed for a 25 m flight. During 100 experimental flights, the drone found all the items hidden behind loads of other packages.

Soon, RFLy will be tested at the warehouse of the large retailer.


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