Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have been the subject of interest in recent times for the convenience, flexibility, and efficiency they offer. More than that, their potential to possibly revolutionize certain processes, businesses, and industries has been made apparent with the advancement of various technology fields, namely blockchain, artificial intelligence, and a combination of the two.
Although the applications of drones are wide and varied, their implementation in the real world is yet to prove to be the takeover that it has the potential to be. Many businesses and industries are still doubtful of the security, safety, and reliability of drones. However, the emergence of blockchain and the subsequent advancements in the field have helped build a decentralized system that allows for maximum control access to the airspace. Higher levels of data integrity, safety, and security are ensured through this new system.
A UAV traffic management system (UTM) has been used as a solution to create a more reliable and safe flight experience when it comes to commercial drones. Currently, the potential of the UTM system remains largely unrealized in its present form. It is not able to guarantee cyber security to any satisfying degree, and it is centralized and unscalable.
Blockchain and How It Is Used
The fundamental working principle behind blockchain technology is decentralization. Decentralization allows for information to be accessible to users within a distributed network.
The question of trust and data integrity is answered when every user in the network has their own copy of the data. Corrupted data will be noticed easily by the rest of the network users, so the need for a Trusted Third Party (TTP) is overcome. Decentralization also allows for real-time, shared access and view of data.
The advantages offered by implementing blockchain technology that is invaluable for a safe and secure drone flight and the drone operator are:
With the help of both AI and blockchain, workflows are automated, and manual interference is almost completely minimized. Usually, operators would need to manually carry out all processes and implement the necessary changes, as well as keep up a continuous evaluation of the airspace. Flight paths would need to be planned, and steering clear of in-flight risks would require constant vigilance.
However, planning, executing, and adapting a flight within the complexity of the airspace is no easy task, and the reliance on manual effort could prove to be a mistake. After all, humans are error-prone.
Implementing blockchain technology means cutting through the manual effort to automate the workflow. Features added in this new system include:
- Accurate flight data
- Automated Compliance
- Maintenance guarantees
- Systemwide auditability
Building a Better System
A more robust UTM system can be built to integrate drones in controlled airspace, removing the burden on operators and authorities by enabling more autonomous workflows. We’ll explore some key qualities of a UTM system powered by blockchain technology:
- An airspace system built on blockchain simplifies the process of sharing accurate flight data by removing the burden on drone operators. Blockchain technology can assign a unique ID to every unmanned aircraft and maintain a real-time record of each drone’s status, flight details (e.g., altitude, coordinates), operator, and maintenance history. This approach enables flight awareness for airspace authorities and provides situational awareness to other aircraft operators so they can maintain safe separation.
- Standards compliance is automated so unmanned flights can be automatically and continuously monitored according to local regulations and custom safety standards, relieving the authorities of this duty.
- A blockchain ledger with smart contracts can help ensure drones are safe to fly. For example, if a maintenance request is created to replace a drone’s battery, a smart contract can ensure the request is resolved and signed off by a technician’s private key before the drone can operate again. This will prevent operators from choosing a drone that’s not equipped to complete a mission safely and securely.
- Blockchain technology is the key to maintain high standards of auditability by providing a verified data source of all unmanned flight records and service logs. In a blockchain-backed airspace system, each flight log is linked to the previous log with cryptography so they can’t be altered retroactively. That means authorities can analyze flight data and determine the sequence of events with 100% certainty.
The features of blockchain, mainly decentralization and cryptography, help build a safe and secure system with additional features to automate as much of the process as possible while also offering key insights that will create a detailed, error-free drone operation. Technological advancements have opened up the possibility of a safer, more secure airspace by building a more comprehensive system that facilitates the commercialized use of autonomous aviation. The growth of fields like blockchain and AI presents an exciting future for integrated drones in the global airspace.
Looking for a UTM system for ensuring a safe and secure flight experience? Contact us to learn more about airspace management powered by blockchain.