Move Over 'TacoCopter': Here Comes The 'Internet Of Drones'

from the pity-about-those-regulations dept

As we know, the Internet works by breaking digital information up into IP packets which are then routed independently over the network, and then re-assembled at their destination. Anything made up of 0s and 1s can be sent anywhere with an Internet connection in this way, but that isn’t much good for physical objects.

It’s true that we are fast approaching the day when we will be able to use a 3D scanner to send a digital file representing an object across the Internet so that it can then be printed at the destination. But that only works for simple, fungible items like cups or replacement parts, and is useless if you want to deliver a particular, personal item rather than just a generic copy.

To do that, we need an Internet of drones:

A short distance drone delivery service built on an open protocol. Think short haul logistics.

It’s a system that will explode in a way that is very similar to the way the Internet grew up — where connections were bought by individuals and installed one modem and IP address at a time, and where the early providers are local geeks with shelves full of modems and an expensive T-1 lines.

It’s an approach that uses “uncontrolled airspace” and incremental purchases of cheap, standards compliant pads/drones to roll itself out (very similar to the way the Internet was able to piggy back on the old telephone system).

As a result of this open approach and decentralization, it’s something that could grow VERY fast.

If you’re still unsure how this would work in practice, the post by John Robb quoted above goes on to spell out the details for a simple example. The bottom line for returning a forgotten smartphone to its owner 30 miles away:

Costs? Probably less than $0.25 per 10 mi. or so. So, about $0.75 in this instance. Time? An hour or so.

Of course, this is just a generalization of an idea we discussed back in March of last year, the so-called “TacoCopter“, but taken to the next level, modelled on the Internet’s IP packets. As we pointed out then, it’s a great idea with lots of practical problems, mostly regulatory ones. Arguably the far greater potential of the Internet of drones concept makes the argument for loosening up those restrictions to permit innovation in this area even more compelling.

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Comments on “Move Over 'TacoCopter': Here Comes The 'Internet Of Drones'”

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Chris says:

Not a chance

Interesting idea, but way too much potential for abuse.

Wouldn’t be too hard to start shooting them down in hope of a valuable find, or the delivery of less than desirable exploding objects and so on.

It would need to be highly restricted and monitored which defeats the whole purpose, and wouldn’t work well with one off items… digitising and reproduction is definitely the way to go

FreeCultureForFreePeople says:

Re: Not a chance

Is this the way you treat your postman, too? Postmen, too, are in the business of delivering (sometimes) valuable goods, and their services have been used more than once in the past to deliver explosive letters to embassy staff and other Government officials.

Sure, gunning down a drone is not the same as gunning down a postman – it’s only an object, not a human being.

The motivation behind gunning down either of the two would be the same, however (greed and personal defense). And I’m not aware of too many incidents involving gunned down postmen.

Chris says:

Re: Re: Not a chance

The two concepts don’t compare at all.. One is an organised, insured private company who organise, filter, xray etc for dangerous objects, and the other is a concept to mimic the open nature of a digital network.

By the time you change the concept to match the security protocols of a postal service, it’s nothing like the original idea.. so it doesn’t work.

Anonymous Coward says:

$0.25 every 10 miles? I don’t think even the most fuel efficient cars in the world can get that kind of gas mileage with gas around $3 a gallon today.

$3 a gallon of gas means you can drive 120 miles a gallon, and no, you can’t do that. I’ve heard of nothing that uses gas getting more then 50 miles a gallon. Some electric cars can go a few hundred miles on electricity, but guess what, that costs money to.

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