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U.S Federal Agency Wants to Pilot Blockchain for Drone Transportation

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drones blockchain
drones blockchain

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The United States government has shown a continued inclination towards integrating blockchain technology into its operations. It would appear that the technology could now also get an application in transport activities. 

Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Volpe Center published a report where it discussed the idea of implementing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that would run on a blockchain. 

Guidelines to Dictate Drones’ Operations

Also known as drones, UAVs have become popular in recent times. Many have even touted them as effective tools that both private companies and government agencies could leverage. From operating weapons for security purposes to transporting medical supplies and even completing deliveries on e-commerce services, drones are the new darling of the automotive space. 

In its letter, the Department of Transport explained that while these vehicles can be used for various functions, there’s still the need to develop a system that will monitor their use and ensure that they don’t get trifled with. 

Currently, all UAVs that weigh between 0.55 pounds and 55 pounds will need to be registered using an online system from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). However, the FAA also points out the fact that drones can still be operated autonomously. This, as it explains, provides the need for even stronger protocols, which will ensure that they don’t interfere with government aviation protocols. 

Jay Merkle, the Director of the FAA Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Office, added, “The volume of UAS operations is outpacing manned aircraft. Currently, there are nearly four times as many UAS as registered manned aircraft.”

In the report, the transport authority highlights that it could use blockchain to provide security and identity management solutions. Other areas where the technology could prove useful include UAV conflict management, flight authorization, and air traffic management. 

Private Firms Have Taken the Charge 

The Department of Transportation, however, is coming into an industry that’s already being saturated by several private companies. 

For instance, travel conglomerate Boeing has already employed blockchain for air traffic management. Last year, the firm launched SkyGrid, a subsidiary that will use blockchain and artificial intelligence to develop dynamic traffic routing. The aim is to provide a safe way for drones to be employed in emergency assistance, industrial site inspections, and package deliveries.  

As for conflict resolution, we can also point to a private company making strides in that regard. Last August, UAV Coach reported that global retail giant Walmart had filed a patent for a blockchain-based drone delivery system. 

As the news source explained at the time, the patent described a blockchain-based system that would allow drones close to each other to communicate. The drones would reportedly use blockchain-based keys to exchange authenticating signals with each other and verify that they belong to Walmart and are in the same fleet. 

Once the verification process is complete, they will be able to pass packages for prompt delivery. If the government wants to employ blockchain for these areas, it could simply get some input from firms that have gone ahead.

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