Aug 31, 2017
The use of drones beyond military applications has, so far, been relegated to capturing amazing aerial images and delivering small packages. However, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) are currently experimenting with the use of drones for other industrial uses.
Although RFID tags can offer a number of efficiencies and traceability benefits, these codes and related scanners pose some complications for larger operations due to the manual scanning that still needs to be performed. In response, MIT researchers have developed a system that enables aerial drones to read RFID tags from up to 30’ away.
Applications for these warehouse drones could include continuous inventory monitoring in ensuring individual item counts are accurate and warehouse locations are correctly listed. Higher levels of accuracy could help insulate manufacturers and distributors against the wrong products being fed to work cells or sent to customers.
Another challenge for the research team arose when realizing the size restrictions that would need to be placed on these drones to ensure safe use in a warehouse environment. The drones that were small enough to navigate without risk to people or products were simply too small to carry RFID readers.