Drones and BlockChain Technology
Security is a primary concern in any system that requires verification of data – such as banking or logistics – and it perceptibly becomes all the more vital when security is concerned in any online or decentralized system. An understandably impenetrable system of security insurance devised for decentralized systems is called BlockChain.
How Does Blockchain Work?
As the terminology implies, a BlockChain is a chain of blocks. Each block contains information that could be in regards to transaction data, security checks etc. Each block is connected to another block; the system of connected blocks is, therefore, called BlockChain.
What separates a BlockChain from a database, however, is the fact that it is updated simultaneously from anywhere in the world by ‘miners’. Since every update is saved online and every participant of the BlockChain receives a copy of the update, it is virtually impossible to temper with available data.
A BlockChain is therefore a profitable update over conventional database or information management systems because:
- It offers simultaneous updates
- It offers security of data
- It is decentralized
Drone Technology and Information Management
As military drones respond only to their specified military bases and carry centralized confidential data, they are not a component of this article’s discussion.
Small scale drones that are used for media purposes, package delivery, agriculture, paramedics, traffic management and can benefit from a peer-to-peer network of data are relevant to the discussion of drones and BlockChain technology.
An example of a system that can benefit from BlockChain platforms is logistics. A logistics system, for example integrated with delivery drones, has to have a large scale transaction database that is updated upon every package delivery and order.
The details of the order, the pricing, the time of loading and dispatch are all supposed to be recorded and utilized in real time by a system managing the logistics drones.
A traffic control system established using drones does not only have to track information regarding traffic in real time, but also has to transfer feedback within the drones used in the network. The data, thus, has to be updated and received by drones simultaneously.
It is thus established that a system of drones, particularly those operating with multiple drones at the same time, has the following issues to address in terms of managing information and tracking data:
- The data has to be received from all active drones by the system and uploaded to all active and inactive drones simultaneously.
- Corruption of individual drone(s)’ feedback or record is not supposed to corrupt the data in the system/network.
How Does Blockchain Help Drone Systems?
While a conventional centralized database or data management system allows individual drones to operate autonomously and perform any programmed task, a whole network of drones that collaborate with each other can be improved upon extensively using BlockChain technology.
Let us understand how:
Drone solutions will need to be provisioned with cryptographic material that support confidential, authenticated and secure protected communications amongst themselves and to the system.
The underlying cryptographic material and services required depends on the protocols that are being used and the security objectives of each. We may be able to consider models using BlockChain identifiers that enable flexibility in establishing alternative trust models across heterogeneous devices, access technologies, network domains and communication modes.
For instance, in case of a package delivery operation, a system based on BlockChain could log information about the operations such as time, location, resources, delivery date etc, and make the data accessible to authenticated users, and any other stakeholders along a package’s route using smartphone applications, websites etc.
One burning concern for drone usage leading to ban of drones in certain countries and states is the misuse of drones or potential violation of privacy.
The focus of a remote identification is to enable public or private entities or users interested with a drone flight to detect and report an identifier number to the authorities. The authorities in turn would have the tools to investigate the complaint without infringing on operator privacy.
A BlockChain identifier-based remote identification system potentially would protect drone user information and any confidential information about the nature and objective of the drone missions. Monitoring and reporting potential complaints by the public about inappropriate drone usage, damage to public safety or personal property can be handled by using the broadcasted BlockChain drone identifier. The identifier would keep the public informed on information like the drones surveillance capabilities without releasing personal information about the drone operators.
Examples of Blockchain Integration With Drones
The idea of using BlockChain technology with Drone systems, although new, is appealing enough for certain companies and groups to try it, with varying levels of success, each leading up to the identification of more and more variables to be considered to optimize the effectiveness or productivity of the application of BlockChain with Drone systems.
Chronicled, a company that offers open source BlockChain and Internet of Things(IoT) solutions, boasted a system of drones that utilized BlockChain for logistics. The solution included cryptographic microchips that give delivery drones a unique identity on the BlockChain, which IoT applications use to give (or deny) the drone trusted access to secure locations such as a home or warehouse. The drone’s encrypted chip communicates with a chip reader on an IoT-connected access point(eg. House) like a window or door. The chip reader verifies the chip’s cryptographic signature and checks its identity on the blockchain. Once permission is confirmed, the window/door opens, and delivery can be completed. The wallet associated with the household can pay the upon delivery–like paying for a pizza but automated.
A logistics provider network, SKYFchain, formulated their business model around utilization of BlockChain in Drone systems. KYFchain is the first BlockChain-based business-to-robots operating platform that will link hardware manufacturers and service providers, logistics providers and their clients, leasing insurance and regulatory support. The main purpose of the SKYFchain OP is to integrate market participants onto a common platform with a unifying token and smart contract system. One of the features is that clients will be able to rent the services of a drone which is a new kind of vehicle.
BlockChain is effectively being utilized in decentralized manned vehicular systems such as Taxi services like Uber and logistics services like FedEx. However, it is expected of the technology to expand its applications beyond, to complete networks that manage Autonomous vehicles using BlockChain. While BlockChain already does provide a verifiable historical ledger or a database in real time as well as security of data in manned vehicles, it is expected to build a global payment network within the system(s) of said autonomous vehicles as well as a built-in smart mission contract, which would ensure absolutely legit cooperation between vehicles with no loss of data.
There are more successful simulated business models that work in prototyping as well as virtual simulations. In time, we will also see the small scale logistics networks and smart agricultural systems taken over by drones that integrate BlockChain in their systems.