Airborne Data Collection

Using a drone to scan barcodes in high warehouses saves hundreds of man-hours during stock-take or physical inventory. The drone flys up to the high shelves and scans the barcodes on each item, as well as the barcode on the shelf.

This saves the time and effort of lifting a human up to the high shelves using a forklift or reach truck which can be as high as 8m.

There are huge savings to be made in reducing the effort of manual barcode scanning of  high shelves which is both time consuming, dangerous, and energy inefficient.

The DroneScan Airborne data collection system uses the latest drone platforms, hardware, software, scanning and communications technology to provide robotic scanning solutions of high shelves in large uniform warehouses.

The barcode or RFID reader equiped drones have on-board sensors to keep them within optimal scanning range from the racks and pallets in the warehouse while they scan the item and shelf barcodes.  

Sensors on the drone provide information to the on-board flight controller to keep it at the correct height to scan the rack and pallet item barcodes in the warehouse. The height of the drone is communicated over a wireless link from the server which uses a database to process the scanned barcodes and send commands to the drone, while building up a list of items scanned in the inventory.

Status Update:

Handheld scanning, inventory, and data collection system is fully functional, integrated into the ScanMan WMS . Semi-autonomous drone scanning is not ready. We are currently integrating it into a few different drone navigation systems. The drones and the drone scanning service will be provided by the drone navigation suppliers in their respective areas, starting in Q2 2015.



Data Processing

The drone is tightly integrated to the DroneScan database, not only for storing the data scanned but to provide postion and navigation information to the drone based on the barcodes or RFID tags scanned.

The simplicity of the DroneScan system means that there are no expensive infrastructure costs needed to setup a warehouse , the drone uses bin location barcodes on the racks as its navigation system.

Bin location barcodes are often already attached to the racking in warehouses, if not, they can be printed out by the DroneScan server software. Bin location barcodes are stuck on the racking underneath each bin location where a pallet would be. When  a bin location barcode is scanned by the drone, the database returns context sensitive information to the drone to assist it to navigate to the next bin location, or to scan the pallet sitting in the bin location.

The warehouse can easily be configured by uploading an excel spreadsheet containing bin location information into the database using the easy to use DroneScan Windows software.



  • Airborne Stock Take/Physical Inventory

    The traditional method of scanning stock above human reach is to use a forklift to raise an operator up to each box and allow the user to scan it with a handheld barcode reader.

     This is not only time consuming (on average, this allows for only 6 scans per man-hour, but it is also dangerous for the operator in the cage to be lifted up to 8m high.

    The energy used by an average forklift is aprrox 20KWh, most of this is used in lifting the forklift tines, the cage and the human operator up to each box, weighing approx 500kg. All of this extra weight  is moved up and down to, to support the barcode scanner that weighs only 500g!

    Using a lightweight  drone weighing less than 1kg, a tiny barcode scanner weighing only 10g uses far less enery, approx 0.2KWh, this is  one hundred times more energy efficient.

    In addition, the drone can scan approximately 300 units per man hour, this is 50 times faster than the manual method.

    With the time savings of using the drone to scan items above head height, your warehouse can re-open for business earlier.

    No expensive fixed installations are required, the drone navigates using your existing warehouse racks, shelf heights and barcoded bin locations.

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    Item Searching

    The drone can be wirelessly loaded up with a list of items to go and find, it will navigate up and down the items until it finds one of the items in the list, it will then hover there until told to continue by an operator. It could also be fitted with a marking gun to tag items with a colored mark for later retrieval.

    Selecting items for sending to the drone is as simple as searching for them in the software and clicking: "Send To Drone".

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  • Item Inspection

    If an item in the warehouse needs to be inspected for damages, condition, or to verify the product contents, the drone can be fitted with a camera that can take still images for later processing , or provide a live video feed for FPV viewing.

    The still and video images can be uploaded to the server and linked to the item in the warehouse management software for later retrieval and reporting.