As Amazon and other companies have started delivering packages using drones, a growing concern has developed related to thieves attempting to steal those packages by tapping into the drone navigation system. IBM looks to have the solution, as they have filed for a patent on their new blockchain technology-based program that prevents drone package theft.
Amazon, FedEx, and DHL are in the process of building drones that will deliver packages directly to the door of customers. While a cost-effective way to deliver packages, there is a growing concern that these drones could be redirected or hijacked in some way, stealing the packages they were intending to deliver.
On November 12, IBM secured a patent from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for a blockchain-based system aimed at “preventing anonymous theft by drones.” This new program controls the drone upon liftoff, tracking its altitude, while uploading delivery information using the blockchain platform. The patent was designed to accomplish two goals, including ensuring that goods are delivered and that there will not be a conflict which results from people flying their own personal drones.
In the patent filing, it was explained that “The confluence of the increase in drone use and the increase in online shopping provides a situation in which a drone may be used with nefarious intent to anonymously take a package that is left on a doorstep after delivery.”
To resolve the problem, IBM will be fitting packages with an Internet of Things (IoT) sensor that will immediately notify if there is a change in the altitude. Once this occurs, the sensor will continually notify the recipient of the package as well as the distributor of any change in the altitude and direction of the drone. This should give the distributor of the packages plenty of time to determine what course of action should be taken to redirect the drone or retrieve the package.
At the present time, it is unknown how necessary this technology is. The use of drones to deliver packages is relatively new, and there is no data available which presents how much of an issue it is for these drones to be intercepted by thieves or hackers.
However, IBM is moving forward, believing that both distribution chains and customers want to ensure that the drones are “trusted entities” that can be counted on to deliver these packages. It is believed that the use of blockchain technology provides the highest degree of safety and security to accomplish that goal.
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