With the advent of blockchain and subsequent advancements in the field over the years, the present blockchain technologies have allowed for a robust system of security in a vast range of industries, one of which is the drone industry.
Blockchain has provided a more secure and reliable system that has helped increase the popularity of drones for mainstream use.
Blockchain: The Whats, Whys, and Hows
Blockchain technology has grown over the past ten years to become the go-to for record-keeping systems across the world.
The fundamental working principle behind blockchain technology is decentralization. Information stored in the database is made accessible to all the users of the distributed network in which it is shared. Data integrity is reinforced as every user has their own copy of data to verify that information is accurate, complete, and consistent. This also eliminates the need for a Trusted Third Party (TTP), reducing the risk of fraudulent activity.
In addition to decentralization, cryptography is another key feature of blockchain technology that helps keep data secure. Unlike traditional databases, blockchain stores data in ‘blocks’. Data is stored in a block until it is full. After one block is full, a new block is created for storing data, and it is linked to the previous block, so data is stored in chronological order. Blocks are linked to each other via cryptographic means which adds security and minimizes the risk of unauthorized access or alteration.
The Use of Blockchain in the Drone Industry
Regina Houston, Chief of the Aviation Safety Management Systems Division at the U.S. DOT Volpe National Transportation Systems Center, has credited blockchain for being part of the solution to the collecting and sharing of reliable data about drones. When blockchain technology is integrated with other technologies such as machine learning, the registration, accountability, and tracking of an Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) is improved by a large margin. This, Houston believes, opens up an entire world for better drone safety analysis, decision making, and regulation.
While their applications are becoming increasingly varied, drones are still a concern when it comes to safety. Drone automation allows for them to be operated partially or entirely remotely. As they are unmanned, trust becomes a heightened issue.
Blockchain has enhanced data security and integrity using protective policies and protocols. Other challenges that the drone industry is currently facing are:
- Efficient air traffic management
- Reliability of conducting operations in high-traffic areas
- Ensuring flight violations are enforced
Unmanned aircraft are constantly at the risk of faulty aircraft navigation or communications interference. This includes meaconing, intrusion, jamming, and interference.
Along with Artificial Intelligence (AI), blockchain has been used to address cybersecurity concerns that have been able to tackle all of these vulnerabilities with a high degree of trustworthiness and reliability. Apart from security, drone management software that employs blockchain helps with air traffic management, conflict management, and flight authorization.
Using blockchain’s distributed databases, in the case of an event that deviates from the planned course of a flight, such as a collision, data on the activity of the drone prior to the event can be extracted and used for investigation. This allows for better tracking of the drone during flight. This improved tracking system can also be used to ensure the drone is not violating the protocols set by regulations and custom safety standards. This method of tracking and storing data has enhanced security and integrity for many individuals within the industry.
- Industry regulators can track and review drone flight data more easily.
- Insurance companies can use reliable data to insure any drone.
- Pilots or operators can more effectively avoid violations of regulations, improving their relationship with regulators.
Drones are already being used to carry medicine and conduct even highly sensitive operations such as carrying organs for transplants. It can provide relief in firefighting operations, railway inspections, wildlife monitoring, and other such critical operations. When dealing with such critically sensitive operations, data security is of the utmost importance. The reliability and safety of operations have improved significantly by integrating blockchain technology to create better, improved systems that allow for more trust. This newer system has opened a world of possibilities for drones to make many operations easier and safer to carry out.