New IBM Blockchain Patent Application Shows Intention To Use Drones With DLT


New Patent Application by IBM Shows Intention to Use DLT with Drones

Patent applications are frequently filed by companies that want to adapt technology to meet a particular need of their own. IBM, the blockchain research and computer company, decided to apply for their own, using a system that would employ distributed ledger technology. While their use of this type of technology is not new, the way that they plan to adopt it to include the use of drones for recreational and commercial applications is.

The documents for this patent application were published on Thursday by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. The original application was submitted with many other blockchain requests in March 2017. The application outlines the way that this ledger would be a helpful way to store information about UAV flights, “particularly when a security risk is considered to be relatively high.” This would make it easier for controllers and regulators of the airspace to monitor the drones in the area consistently.

Blocks on this type of blockchain would end up with a lot of data points regarding each specific drone. Some of these details include the flight pattern, location, model number and maker, any out of ordinary behavior, the current weather it is in, and how close it is flying to restricted areas.

Within the patent, the author explains,

“The chain can be considered a chronicle of a UAV’s path through time. When a transaction is conducted, the corresponding UAV parameters are sent to one or more of the computing nodes in the system for validation. The one or more computing nodes establish a validity of the transaction and generate a new block. Once the new block has been calculated, it can be appended to the stakeholder’s UAV blockchain. Among many other advantages, the use of a blockchain infrastructure helps in identifying misbehaving UAVs by multiple parties and such activities are recorded in an immutable ledger.”

This permissionless blockchain may also include block times that are logged in connection with the changes in response from the drone, which could include environmental triggers. For example, if the drone goes too close to one of the zones that it is restricted from using, a risk flag may arise. That could cause the block time to increase on the network, ensuring that controllers have more information regarding the UAV itself and the operator. On the other hand, if there is a drone with emergency medical supplies, the block on the chain would show this information so that controllers could authorize the drone to function within a restricted zone.

The risk assessments for the drones are controlled with analytical algorithms or machine learning models. However, they are created off the chain, and use smart contracts within the ledger instead.

IBM is far from the only company that is seeing blockchain as a helpful solution to drone usage and other unmanned vehicles. The USPTO released a patent application involving Walmart, offering to employ blockchain technology for their incoming and outgoing packages.

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