Drones Can Help in Inventory Management


Jun 22, 2008
When radio frequency ID tags were introduced, it was suppose to revolutionize modern logistics systems. Unfortunately with the large scale of most operations, RFID use isn't as efficient as it should be for larger warehouses. MIT researchers devised a system to equip drones to help in reading RFID tags within a few centimeters preventing lost revenue due to inventory errors. Their solution also solves the issue of multiple frequencies interfering by implementing an "antenna array" when dealing with multiple broadcast frequencies to help pinpoint a location.

The researchers met this challenge by using the drones to relay signals emitted by a standard RFID reader. This not only solves the safety problem but also means that drones could be deployed in conjunction with existing RFID inventory systems, without the need for new tags, readers, or reader software.
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I've talked to a few organizations that wanted to use drones for some potentially interesting stuff. One was a cattle farmer - the cows already have an RFID-type tag that tracks their id (while a database keeps track of any medication/medical history relevant to the beast). Right now, they ride around in carts (sorry, no horses cowboys) and manually inventory the creatures. They are wanting to use drones to do the same job. Not sure if cows will like the buzzing noise.