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Safer, More Cost-Effective Alternative to Warehouse Drones

“The notion of long-term, 100% autonomous drones for inventory cycle counting is a myth.”


Vimaan (San Jose, CA) recently announced the all new StorTRACK, the next generation in cycle counting technology that addresses the ongoing challenge of warehouse inventory accuracy. StorTRACK conducts automated scanning of warehouse shelves and uses advanced machine learning to read labels, count inventory, reconcile against a WMS, and generate a visual and digital reconstruction of the warehouse, thus enabling 100% inventory accuracy. 

Vimaan was one of the first companies to introduce and scale indoor drones as a means of capturing images of warehouse inventory.  However, after several years of scanning millions of items across Fortune 500 owned warehouses, Vimaan is raising the bar with the StorTRACK platform – a safer, more efficient and more cost-effective solution that retains all the advantages of computer vision for inventory tracking.

“We started with the goal of being a 100% autonomous drone-based machine learning solution to enable cycle counting.  However, after years of operational experience, our customers and we now believe that warehouse environments are not a good fit for autonomous drones,” said KG Ganapathi, CEO and Founder of Vimaan. “Even the best managed warehouses have unattended loose material like shrink wrap, packaging tape, corrugate, or paper on their shelves and floors.  These items can get sucked into the drone’s rotors and cause catastrophic failure and potentially damage warehouse assets.  As a result, frequent and thorough floor and shelf inspections are essential for safe drone operations. These in turn require labor, which dilutes the notion of full autonomy.”

StorTRACK replaces the drone with a stand-alone hardware module that is lifted and maneuvered by any MHE in the warehouse, including forklifts and order-pickers. The unit includes multiple smart cameras and integrated lighting, enabling a field of view 4X larger than a drone, which allows for more efficient shelf scanning. The system also includes localization and navigation capabilities and a built-in tablet, which provides intuitive real time guidance to the MHE operator on exactly how to conduct the cycle count.  The unit’s battery has a 24X longer charge than a drone, allowing for much larger coverage of the warehouse in a single mission. 

To enable a cycle count, an operator simply picks up the unit with the MHE and drives to the appropriate aisle location (with the guidance of the tablet display) to start the scanning mission.  The system is then raised by the MHE forks, and automatically begins scanning inventory from the floor to the highest storage bay (and every shelf in between).  This process is repeated along each aisle.  The data is viewable on ViewDECK, Vimaan’s proprietary web application, and can also be integrated with major WMS providers –giving warehouse managers search and discrepancy reports as well as other actionable inventory insights.

StorTRACK has other advantages over a drone besides safety and scan efficiency.  It is fully compatible with AGVs or autonomous forklifts, thus providing a “future-proof” path to truly safe and scalable 100% autonomous cycle counting. It enables on demand cycle counting and rapid scans of an entire warehouse which are often needed for quarterly or annual physical audits. 

StorTRACK is also more cost effective than the drone.“StorTRACK provides a faster ROI for our customers,“ added Ganapathi. “It is less expensive than any drone-based solution on the market today, and we are in the process of converting all our drone-based customers to the new StorTRACK platform.” 

Vimaan solutions are engineered to support easy integration with existing workflows. Like DockTRACK and other Vimaan solutions, StorTRACK leverages sophisticated computer vision algorithms, a WMS integration layer, and an intuitive, easy to use app, ViewDECK, that is accessible by inventory management personnel. Together, Vimaan’s product portfolio delivers an unparalleled level of inventory tracking and validation within the four walls of the warehouse.

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