Can drones find missing items? Every year, companies lose billions of dollars due to misplaced items and faulty inventory records in their warehouses. Consider that the smallest Walmart warehouse is larger than 17 football fields, making it impossible to keep track of all items in the warehouse.
To overcome this challenge, we introduce RFly, a drone-based wireless system that can scan and locate items in warehouses. The system leverages cheap, battery-free RFID (Radio Frequency Identifier) stickers, which are attached to every item in the warehouse similar to barcodes. These RFIDs power up and respond with a unique identifier when commanded by a wireless device called a reader. To scan a warehouse, a drone operator dispatches a small, inexpensive, and safe drone which flies throughout a warehouse, cataloging and localizing all the RFIDs in a warehouse. The video below shows how the system operates.