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United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

New U.S. DOT Volpe Report: Blockchain for Unmanned Aircraft Systems

Thursday, April 30, 2020

In line with its 50-year tradition of advancing transportation innovation for the public good, the U.S. DOT Volpe Center recently published a new report, Blockchain for Unmanned Aircraft Systems, which provides a high-level study of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and their flight operations that may benefit from the application of blockchain concepts.

Commonly known as drones, UASs are fast becoming part of our everyday vernacular. In fact, FAA forecasts that the number of recreational and commercial UASs will reach between 2.2 and 2.4 million in the next few years. Some promising UAS applications range from air taxis and package delivery to fighting wildfires and search and rescue.

The potential for continued growth and variety in application makes UASs especially suitable to the trust and integrity provided by blockchains.

What is a blockchain?

A blockchain is a time-stamped digital ledger that is distributed and managed by a cluster of computers and allows digital information to be distributed—read, shared, and added to—but not copied or changed. Blockchain technology allows non-trusted parties to interact over a network in a verified way and without a trusted intermediary. Because falsifying a single record would mean falsifying the entire chain in millions of instances, blockchain technology readily allows for the introduction of trust into a group or network.

How can blockchain technology support UASs?

Read the new report to get up-to-speed on what blockchains could mean for UAS operations and more, including:

  • Blockchain technology basics;
  • The growth in UAS use and their many beneficial applications;
  • Some potential challenges posed by the use of UAS;
  • How blockchains could support UAS operations, along with a case study example;
  • Future efforts and ideas; and
  • Timely quotes from a range of industry and government thought leaders.
A case study example of data transactions across a UAS route.
A case study example of the different types of data transactions across a UAS route. (U.S. DOT Volpe Center) 

Visit www.volpe.dot.gov for more information on the U.S. DOT Volpe Center, which celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2020. As the National Transportation Systems Center, the U.S. DOT Volpe Center mission is to help the transportation community navigate its most challenging problems.

For more information on this new report, Blockchain for Unmanned Aircraft Systems, please contact Ellen Bell