Blockchain’s ability to store verifiable and accurate data is winning government support. The U.S Department of Transportation is actively exploring the use of commercial drones.
In a report published on April 15, the US Department of Transportation (DOT) has detailed the potential challenges of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). According to the findings, the use of commercial drones—which includes UAS for military, commercial, and recreational usage—is seeing rapid growth around the world. However, the industry still faces technical issues related to data sharing and trust. There are also concerns about the safety and management of unmanned aerial vehicles and their operations near high-risk areas like airports and crowded spaces.
The US DOT sees blockchain as having matured enough to dramatically introduce trust in a network, as long as there are known and anonymous participants.
Blockchain-Based “Black Box”
It is unclear how long the US DOT has been reviewing blockchain for UAS systems. But in the report, they mention a blockchain-based “black box” implementation as a possible use case that would be beneficial to the industry. Such a system would help provide data that investigators can use to review all the activities of the drone during its flight in case of a failure or crash.
Red Cat, the company behind the blockchain-based “black box” said that the system addresses the growing need for a simple and secure data storage and analytics solution for commercial drones. The solution, which is currently in beta, provides secure and encrypted third-party data that regulators, insurance companies, and other industry stakeholders can trust.
IBM recently obtained a patent for a system that would work in a similar fashion, though with some modifications. IBM’s patent describes a black box recorder that uses blockchain to chronicle the drone’s flight path, allowing air traffic controllers to monitor the aircraft in real-time. Similarly, NASA published a blockchain framework for a system that secures aircraft privacy, protects UAS from DoS attacks, and prevents them from spoofing their identity.
Drone Delivery of Organs
Another implementation is the tracking of organ delivery by drones. This is a critical yet very time-sensitive process—any delays even by minutes could result in organ failure or unnecessary death. Adding blockchain to the process could theoretically help communicate the status of the organ through sensors in the box, giving hospitals accurate information about the status of the delivery.
This means every party involved in the delivery, depending on their level of access to the ledger will be able to track the drone’s journey and confirm the condition of the organ by integrating data from connected sensors.
Amit Ganjoo, Founder and CEO of ANRA Technologies said:
“In case of a package delivery operation, a blockchain-based repository 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.”
Organ drone deliveries are ideally suited for shorter distances and any efforts are being made to streamline the delivery process. Last year, a drone delivered a kidney that was then successfully transplanted, at the University of Maryland. The delivery was completed in a record 5 minutes, whereas a car trip would have taken 15-20 minutes. The use of blockchain allows individual delivery of critical organs to be tracked from the moment they leave the supplying hospital until they arrive at the receiving hospital.