THE REALM OF HIGH FLYING AUTOMATION
Blockchain drones are determined to continue the frantic pace of automation in the world today. It is no longer rare and very exceptional to see fancy overhead shots of exotic landscapes and tall luxurious buildings made possible by the new wave of drones hitting the market, but now the question of what role does blockchain play in this and how are companies implementing these two technologies to change the future?
DRONE DELIVERY CHRONICLE
The first that comes to mind solution that many readers gravitate to is the door to door package delivery. In 2016 Chronicled (now known as TrustedIoTAlliance) designed and developed a prototype drone delivery service. The major difficulty of drone delivery services is providing trusted accesses when a drone needs entry to a secure location such as a warehouse or home. In other to accomplish this, a drone can connect with a chip reader on an IoT (Internet of Things) connected access point like a door/window. Once the chip reader authenticates the identity on the blockchain, the drone enters and delivery can be accomplished.
With so many projects ambitiously igniting their own drone delivery solutions, dethroning the delivery king is not going to be an easy task. Amazon Air Prime has been in development since 2013 and Jeff Bezos already has an outstanding lead in the field. He also has in his luxury the funds to launch his own cryptocurrency if he chooses to and if other projects start taking the lead. Yet, no word on whether the richest man in the world plans to implement blockchain into his future delivery plans.
Dorado is another blockchain company with the aim of shaking the $217 billion on-demand delivery industry. The founders started with a food delivery business background. Interestingly, the team hopes to help customers deliver just about anything a drone can carry. In May 2018, Dorado launched an ICO and raised about $21 million to fund the idea.
Another interesting sector where drones can be most useful is in the security industry. Drones may bring about the next level of mobile camera services that secures highly sensitive locations and can also act as the eyes of the next generation of robotic bodyguards. These are questionable to an extent in the case of blockchain integration. In December 2018, an incident at Gatwick airport highlights how this could change as thousands of flights were not allowed to fly at the busy British airport due to drones that were spotted near commercial runways. Over 1,000 flights were completely grounded affecting the travel plans of about 140,000 people, creating loud panic in the process. Authorities feared the possibility of terrorist activities, but no major incidents were reported. This incident resulted in losses of £15 million ($19 million) for just one of the Airports carriers, EasyJet.
Suspects are yet to be identified in the Gatwick incident, which gives room for the need of adequate drone tracking in the future. A likely solution could come from IBM, who filed a patent in 2017 listing out how blockchain could be implemented with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV). According to developers at the company, a permissioned blockchain could invariably increase a network’s block time and provide airspace controllers with data on UAVs and operators.
This is, as a matter of fact, one of the most interesting areas where blockchain drones can make a real difference. National parks are employing drones to combat illegal trespassers in some parts of Africa. National parks are out of bounds for public drone use. However, drones are permitted in other areas, and one company is determined to take advantage of the global growth of personal drones.
Soar, is a company out of Australia and plans to collect aerial photography to improve industries such as urban planning, disaster relief, smart agriculture and natural resource management. Many users fully depending on global companies such as Google to provide them with mapping technology. Amir Farhand, CEO of Soar believes that the days of static mapping are very much over, and it will be the public who provides a new set of dynamic super mapping capabilities. And all the data will be on the blockchain and creators will be credited and appreciated for contributing to the system.
One or two drones in the sky may not be a problem. But when there are hundreds dragging the same airspace, there is definitely bound to be some issues. Now some vital questions–What constitutes public airspace? Can drones fly over other people’s houses or should they stick to roads? How will these companies avoid in air collisions? Will humanity be faced with a new kind of air pollution?
Companies will need to answer these questions and other issues too, if drones are to be a regular feature of our skies.
VIOLATION OF PRIVACY
It is very lucid now that drones could pose a serious threat to privacy, if not properly checked and analyzed. To eliminate this posing threat, public blockchains rather than private ones (like IBM proposes) may be the answer. If the general public has access to a drone registry blockchain they will be able to authenticate and validate/reject any drones that enter into their airspace/neighborhoods. This invariably depends on drones transmitting a public signal in the first place.