Ethereum-based Platform Develops a Smart Contract System for Drones

News and Analysis

AIRA developers announced their projects for drone controlling with smart contracts in Ethereum network. The system allows a human to hire a drone for a job. The robot would act as an autonomous agent executing the contract on its own accord, and would receive payments for the rendered services.

According to the developers, this simplest integration of the IoT with Ethereum will allow a person to directly interact with a bot and enter a two-party contract therewith. The video below demonstrates an example hiring process for a bot. The job is to reach predetermined GPS coordinates with no control maintained by an operator.

Initially the drone employee is at the base. Creation and adjustment of the hiring contract incorporate stating the base’s coordinates and a transaction in the Ethereum network. Following the contract instrumenting, the drone receives coordinates in order to calculate the flight’s distance and cost. As soon as they become known, the user sends the payment, and the robot flies away to do the job.

The entire hiring process incorporates seven steps.
1. Initial configuring of the drone.
2. Launching the script for creation of a drone-hiring smart contract.
3. Connecting the contract from the client’s console.
4. Sending the coordinates to the drone so that it could calculate the distance and the cost.
5. Hiring the drone to reach the required GPS coordinates.
6. Watching the drone’s flight to the destination point and back.
7. The drone reports it is back at the base, thus signifying it has performed the user’s task.
Sergei Lonshakov’s blog provides some technical details as to the drone’s hiring.

“This is a real-life example of interaction between a human and a smart appliance in the form of a contract with direct payment effected to the drone to pay for its services. That’s really cool, it makes me believe in some futurist scenarios notwithstanding everything happening in the world,” Lonshakov commented.

The developers also created a more elaborate version of a smart contract related to the core of DAO’s. The team is going to continue its work on integration of DAO mechanisms and organization of the drones’ base with flight routes.

One of the developers answered several questions from ForkLog.

FL: What is the target audience for the solution? Where and when will the system find its practical application?
SL: When we commenced our coding for an Ethereum-based DAO platform, it was important to attract at least some partner projects willing to use DAO in their business models. Among them was the Drone Employee project, a solution for hiring a drone with no operators involved. The project commenced in autumn 2015, and our inspiration was that the project’s business model seems extremely viable for years 2016 to 2018, considering the fact that the project incorporates two hi-tech and relatively young features, being cryptocurrency technologies with smart contracts, and implementation of the ROS framework to communicate with the drone.

FL: What problems do you anticipate for, say, widespread pizza delivery by drones operated by smart contracts? For instance, a drone may breakdown on its way, someone may steal it, or someone else could deliberately send it to a hazardous or restricted area. How can you cover such risks?
SL: You’ve just broached a problem of contemporary drone-related development. Nowadays, one may adjust a drone at their sole discretion. They may control it from a phone with video feed; they may use it for patrolling or plotting a map for an area. Therefore, drone manufacturers like or make all their software to improve the drone’s control and its performance in typical tasks, be it following a person or a route, a high-quality photo footage, or delivering a textbook to a college roof. However, those solutions don’t incorporate at least a simplest offer for B2B, which hinders massive sales or business integration of drones. For instance, an amusement park or a ski resort cannot establish their own drone system and integrate it with their billing system these days. The Drone Employee solution is oriented towards covering the issues related to widespread application. We will try to consider the most possible situations that most business segments might face. By limiting the responsibility to particular directions, we significantly increase the chances that once drone will be hired to make bird-eye panorama photos, if not delivering a pizza in a city. If we succeed, it will be a step in the direction of the pizza thing, when a drone delivers it straight to your window.

FL: When will we see the first drone-delivery incorporating drone interaction via web interface?
SL: As we all know, Amazon has shown a real-life example of delivering an item ordered from an online store. However, I have not seen a drone-hiring contract concluded at least in a working simulator yet – except for our own. So I can speak for ourselves only. We plan to release the first working solution for Drone Employee in spring 2016. Currently we’re in refinement process, but as early as in January we might proceed with some real-life experiments.

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