Beginning of 2019, UK government announced financing micro robot research to assist underground piping work. The goals are to decrease risks for human labor and to increase the efficiency of those types of infrastructure based projects. So when micro robotics and AI will allow micro robots to operate underground, uses cases will be endless. Those automatized task force will provide services at scale we haven’t explored yet.
Now let’s imagine having 10 companies owning 1000 microrobots each. Those 10 000 robots working day and night together on a project. How at the end of the month, the clients of the project will be able to retribute fairly the companies? How would it be possible to measure the activities of each robots in an objective and traceable way?
Next questions: now let’s imagine than 5 of the companies has robots use to pipe analysis, ie validating there is no leak. And 5 of the companies has robots being able to weld fissures. Those 2 types of robots have to collaborate, to exchange services in order to fulfil their overall goal. How to motivate the robots to behave with a common purpose?
What has been underlined here will be the same for a lot of services in smart cities: like the motion sensors of a public light wanting to share the information of a kid, close to cross a road, to autonomous vehicles around it.
The difficulty will be to have a layer of collaboration in fragmented networks of devices. The connected devices in smart cities will be assembled by different manufacturers, and be owned by different companies. We will also have heterogeneity in the hardware and software standards. So we will have fragmented networks needing to collaborate together in order to provide valuable services.
To collaborate together 3 needed steps should be fulfilled:
- Measurement of services
- Automatic reward system
The authentication steps validates which devices are allowed to collaborate together. The measurement of services is focused on validating what service has been provided, meaning its nature and its quality. It is key, because behind those connected devices, there are companies and we need to automotize the reward system. It could be through payments, reputation or future service access…
Here is an example showcasing who autonomous robots collaborate together for the best of each other. 2 robots are lost. A rescuer robot is sent to help them. This rescuer robot is able to map the area where the 2 robots are lost. The rescuer will share with them a map, they will use it to come back to their base.
The authentication step gives them the right to exchange information. It is key, because we don’t want to have autonomous vehicles receiving incorrect maps, as it would be obviously dangerous. The measure of services is key to validate the map has been sent by the rescuer, then received by the lost robots, and then used to help them come back to their base. The automatic reward system is triggered when positive completion of the previous step. The company owning the previously lost robot pay automatically the company owning the rescuer robot.
And every steps are possible thanks to blockchain. In that situation blockchain is the interoperable tool allowing fragmented networks to collaborate together. It validates through onchain whitelists what devices can work together. Then through offchain-onchain protocols, it allows to measure the exchange services. And at the end, a smart-contract automatize the payment.
We have here a good example of smart smart city application, meaning uses of smart city concepts providing smart and valuable services. Welcome to the Machine to Machine economy!