Gather AI

During TIACA’s Innovation days in Silicon Valley last month, organised by Matchlabn, senior delegates from across the air cargo industry met a wide variety of start-ups. The Loadstar is publishing a series of short articles looking at new technologies potentially suitable for the industry.

Start-up: Gather AI

Device: warehouse data drones


“Drones do two things. They collect (data) or carry.” Gather AI’s are the first sort. Already used by dnata, their devices are suitable for warehouses, to collect data on shipments.

Currently, shipments tend to be counted manually; there is no automatic evidence of any damage; and information is often on paper. There can also be discrepancies between the reported dimensions and the actual dimensions.

Gather AI does not make the hardware. Instead, it uses existing drones and adds its own software. The drones fly around the warehouse, using a hexagonal post as a geolocator. They photograph shipments and any damage, and crucially can do cargo dimensioning, which can boost utilisation of aircraft.

“You can use the information to build up cargo, and input into ULD planning.”

The software can be customised to suit an individual client’s needs. Clients can operate any number of drones, integrated on a single dashboard. Training takes about 30 minutes for the drone use, and a couple of hours for the dashboard. Locations don’t need to be fully wifi-enabled – Gather AI digitises and tracks the warehouse. If a drone breaks – Gather AI simply sends another as part of the package.

The company said it was satisfied with its cyber security, which is handled by Microsoft Assure, with full API integration.

There are a few limitations. The drones can fly for about an hour before needing a 45-minute charge. Labels must be on the outside of packages to be read, while there needs to be a 0.5m space between lines of pallets. While drones can detect obstacles, it is safer if people are cleared from warehouses before the drones operate. But one handler said these things would be easy to achieve with the right processes.

One person can launch three drones – the only limitation is changing the batteries. And while the software can read all shapes, and can do thermal scanning, it doesn’t have x-ray vision – an option explored by the company, but there were concerns over radiation.

“The value and efficiency will depend on the location,” said one delegate. “But you could save money on building pallets, utilisation and training. It takes warehouse staff a long time to learn how to dimension cargo  -and then that training and experience goes when they leave.

“But you would need to test the return on investment, value and savings versus costs.”

There are some warehouses which use handheld scanners, or dimensional scanners in fixed locations, but Gather AI’s solution enables data collection from flexible locations.

Dnata is going global with the technology over the next two years, and Gather AI’s customers include 3PLs, as well as the US Army and Air Force in non-military operations, such as retail.


Use case: warehouses

Cost: The package for the first drone and software is $4,500 per month, and $1,500 for the next one.

Pros: cargo dimensioning, photographic evidence, data collection.

Cons: battery life, some warehouse constraints.


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