Data Collection Using RFID and Mobile Readers

Open Access
Lin, Michael
Graduate Program:
Computer Science and Engineering
Master of Science
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
February 13, 2008
Committee Members:
  • Thomas F Laporta, Thesis Advisor
  • Thomas La Porta, Dissertation Advisor
  • networking
  • mobile robots
  • rfid
  • mesh networks
RFID tags are widely used to track inventory as it enters and exits warehouses. However, the limitations of passive RFID technology prevents its use in real-time inventory management. In this thesis, we present two novel methods of combining RFID technology with mobile robots to extend RFID's use in real-time inventory management. Our first method uses both a mesh network of active RFID tags and a single mobile reader to enable real-time querying of goods in a warehouse. The combination of the mesh network and mobile reader gives the system the flexibility to find data paths that efficiently distribute energy consumption, reducing power consumption by up to 80% while maintaining query response times of under 40 seconds. We also present a system of multiple mobile readers connected via a base station or ad-hoc network in a passive RFID tag-equipped warehouse. We find that our flexible grid robot movement algorithm performed within 5% of the optimal naive algorithm in the base station case, and outperformed all other algorithms by up to 80% in the ad-hoc case. We conclude that using both RFID and mobile readers provides a superb combination of capabilities supporting real-time inventory management.