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30 августа 2017, 22:51

MIT’s RFID Drone Inventory System Could Save Retailers Billions


Warehouses across the country squander billions of dollars each year on lost inventory—no thanks to radio frequency ID tags.

Intended to revolutionize supply chain management, RFID scanning has failed major retail operations.

But, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has a plan to reform the technology using drones.

MIT last week unveiled a system that enables unmanned aerial vehicles to read and identify RFID tags from meters away. Researchers envision the new technique being used for continuous monitoring and location of individual items.

According to a recent survey by the National Retail Federation and University of Florida, retailers’ inventory shrink averaged $45.2 billion in 2015—an increase of $1.2 billion over the year before.

Even the government could use some help: The US Army reportedly failed to properly monitor more than $1 billion of arms transfers in Iraq and Kuwait, based on a declassified 2016 audit.

“By enabling drones to find and localize items and equipment, this research will provide a fundamental technological advancement for solving these problems,” professor Fadel Adib, whose group at the MIT Media Lab developed the RFly system, said.

Adib’s team—including Media Lab postdoc Yunfei Ma and mechanical engineering graduate student Nicholas Selby—created an airborne circuit that transmits wireless signals to and from a standard RFID reader.

The complex system, described in full by MIT, uses a variation on traditional radio frequency technology: The drone is too small to carry an array of antennas, so the continuously moving vehicle takes readings at different times and different locations, simulating the multiple elements of an antenna array.

Each UAV is also equipped with its own RFID tag, which reflects signals back to the item.

“In experiments in the Media Lab that involved tagged objects, many of which were intentionally hidden to approximate the condition of merchandise heaped in piles on warehouse shelves, the system was able to localize the tags with 19-centimeter accuracy,” the Institute said.

Researchers are currently conducting a second set of experiments in the warehouse of a major Massachusetts retailer.

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Source: https://www.geek.com/tech/mits-rfid-drone-inventory-system-could-save-retailers-billions-1714176/?source