IFM is using autonomous drones to automate data capture inside warehouses, streamlining the process of managing inventory.
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Springwise has seen various breakthroughs in technology used to automate the process of accurate cataloguing, for example, a robotic librarian in Singapore that scans the shelves and lists missing books. Now, IFM (Intelligent Flying Machines) applies a similar approach to inventory, using a small army of lightweight drones to navigate the inside of warehouses and feed back discrepancies between listed and actual inventory. The startup thinks it has solved two key problems of practical application – developing a reliable indoor navigation system since GPS doesn’t work indoors and keeping the robots light enough to allow them to maneuver around safely.
The drones are claimed to work with “centimeter accuracy” meaning they can capture data without direct human oversight. They are designed to be deployed between shifts, taking off, scanning the shelves and landing for recharge independently. The system integrates with existing warehouse management software: information is gathered via scan, uploaded and cross referenced with the company’s existing inventory. If errors are spotted, they are sent automatically to tablets kept at the end of each aisle. Warehouse staff can then check these tablets at the start of each shift to see if anything is missing. “Lost inventory costs companies billions of dollars every year” explains CEO and founder Marc Gyongyosi. The process takes on average 20 minutes, depending on the size of the warehouse and the number of drones deployed.
IFM believes that these drones – which make use of a GPU (graphics processing unit) in order to find their way around – have potentially limitless application from insurance inspections to construction. Could these autonomous flying robots undertake useful tasks in your sector?