Design of a Robotic System to Identify Mis-Shelved Library Books



2005-2006: With support from the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance, this entrepreneurial student team designed and prototyped an autonomous robot to shelf-read in a library, identifying mis-shelved books by utilizing Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) and pattern recognition technology. This device is intended to facilitate tracking books in the library, minimizing the number of lost materials and the need for manual shelf-reading. By incorporating systems to process both RFID tag information as well as spine labels with call numbers, the device could enable libraries to gradually switch to an RFID inventory system, if they so choose.

Building on their research of RFID technology, pattern recognition, and library organization, the team designed and developed a functioning prototype capable of moving along a horizontal axis, reading standard spine labels of books, and understanding the library organizational system.  The students’ design included five components: RFID, pattern recognition, a sorting algorithm, a motor and chassis, and integration software.

The team also developed several recommendations for future development beyond the proof-of-concept level; these will be useful to a future student team or to a company interested in developing the robot for commercialization.