Robonomics and the Fourth Industrial Revolution 🤖🏙️
Creating the economic layer for advanced robotics
Table of Contents 🕹️
The Cities of Tomorrow 🏙️
The Fourth Industrial Revolution ♻️
Further Down the Rabbit Hole 🕳️
Carbon is the basis of human life and iron of robot life. It becomes easy to speak of C/Fe when you wish express a culture that combines the best of the two on an equal but parallel basis.
― Isaac Asimov, The Caves of Steel
I. Introduction 👾
We are currently participating in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
The First centered on the creation of steam-powered factories to mechanize the production process. The Second used electricity to enable mass production. The Third transformed data into an asset via information technology. Now, the Fourth Industrial Revolution, through recent advancements in artificial intelligence, genome editing, augmented reality, robotics, 3-D printing, and blockchain technology, is upending our traditional models. Similar to the revolutions before it, the Fourth Industrial Revolution will profoundly change our institutions, our industries, and ourselves.
The primary trend of this revolution is the use of automation and data to drive manufacturing technologies and processes forward. This trend is encapsulated in the use of cyber-physical systems, Internet of Things (IoT), cloud computing, cognitive computing, AI, and 3D printing. The ultimate goal is to improve system efficiency by integrating data streams with artificial intelligence and robotics.
The Revolution will manifest itself in a variety of forms, but most notably it will bring about the rise of smart cities and smart factories. These new manifestations will automate much of daily life for the citizenry, hopefully leading us to an era of radical abundance.
But an interconnected grid of sensors and robots leads to questions about data manipulation, surveillance, and control. The best way to address these concerns is to build the Internet of Things on infrastructure that is open, transparent, and verifiable. Public blockchains are best suited to accomplish this.
In this issue, we will briefly explore the concept of a smart city and how the Robonomics platform intends to build a blockchain capable of processing all the necessary robotics on-chain.
II. The Cities of Tomorrow 👾
A smart city is a system of interconnected sensors and devices that use advanced analytics to automate a wide range of services for a population with high efficiency and low costs.
The area most explored today in smart city infrastructure is traffic management. Autonomous cars that rely on data analysis could reduce fuel consumption, drive times, and traffic jams. Theoretically, a system like this could evolve to see the removal of traffic lights and stop signs entirely as autonomous vehicles learn to pilot at high-speed with high precision.
In addition to traffic management, smart cities can improve on a vast array of other services such as:
Water - Satellites and AI can be paired to analyze and predict soil moisture, nutrient levels, and more to help improve delivery and conservation while providing a consistently updated view of total water infrastructure health.
Power - Through the use of a smart grid, a smart city utilizes advanced metering and distribution infrastructure to better facilitate energy usage. A central theme of smart grid infrastructure is the use of data flow and information management to power the grid. AI can direct energy across the grid in the most efficient means possible.
Housing - AI can analyze collected building data such as power usage, humidity, CO2, temperature, light, and more. This data can then be used to improve long-term trends, reduce waste and energy consumption, and improve quality of life for citizens.
Waste Management - Waste management services can be automated using sensors creating personalized waste management services. When your garbage can is full, autonomous garbage trucks can be deployed to collect it.
Healthcare - Healthcare delivery in the smart city is greatly improved via robotic surgeons, virtual nurses, streamlined billing, and advanced analytics for disease tracking.
Factory Production - The traditional factory model is upgraded to an autonomous system through the use of machine learning, 3D printing, and other technologies. The entire manufacturing process can be self-managed by the factory, and distribution to the end-user could be handled by drone delivery services.
Robonomics is one platform specifically building for this robotic IoT future.
III. Robonomics 👾
Robonomics is an open-source, decentralized platform for IoT applications running on the Ethereum and Polkadot blockchains. Similar in nature to cloud-based IoT platforms such as AWS, Robonomics seeks to offer a full suite of tools for developing IoT applications. The goal of Robonomics is to provide infrastructure to facilitate the exchange of technical and economic information between user applications, IoT services, and advanced robotics.
The current state of robot economics and IoT is primarily centralized, risking single points of failure within the network. Robonomics is building the alternative system: decentralized and peer-to-peer that utilizes the latest in blockchain technology to enable any developer to build on the platform.
And this mission is important—decentralized robotics on-chain means a verifiable ledger of interactions is always available, up-time is enforced by the peer-to-peer system, and smart contracts provide a way to automate interactions and economies.
The history of Robonomics runs parallel to the history of Ethereum. Robonomics was founded in 2015 around the same time as the Ethereum network. In fact, the core developer team booted up the fourth ETH node ever. Shortly thereafter in 2016, Robonomics launched a drone using a transaction over Ethereum—the first robot to be controlled over blockchain.
In 2018, Robonomics expanded beyond Ethereum onto the Polkadot network. They hope to become a parachain on Kusama, the experimental canary network of Polkadot, and ultimately secure a Relay Chain spot once available (expected in 2023). A Robonomics Relay Chain would allow the network to connect to 1 million IoT systems simultaneuosly.
In a recent post, Robonomics outlines five parachain goals:
Smart leasing Parachain: Rent out robots and earn based on their labor.
Robot as a Service (RaaS) Parachain: Get and provide direct robot services without cashiers, clerks, or centralized cloud providers.
RWS Parachain: Robonomics Web Services will provide a decentralized infrastructure for IoT solutions.
DAO IPCI Parachain: The Robonomics network provides technology for the environmental mitigation service DAO IPCI.
Distributed Sky Parachain: Blockchain technologies to control the traffic of drones.
The following are some of the exciting projects being built on Robonomics currently.
Gaka-Chu is an ex-industrial robot (a KUKA manipulator specifically) that has found new life as a painter.
Gaka-Chu has been creating art autonomously for over 3 years, and has recently begun selling the artworks as NFTs on platforms like Rarible. Gaka-Chu is shown an original design by an artist that the robot then scans and reinterprets into a digital form. After the translation, Gaka-Chu converts the image into kinematic motions to reproduce the painting. Once completed, the art piece (along with a video of its creation and other artifacts) are attached to an Ethereum smart contract.
The process is entirely self-managed, including the minting of the NFT and the upload to IPFS.
Distributed Sky is a peer to peer framework for managing a fleet of drones. The current lack of a universal Air Traffic Management system is a bottleneck for widespread adoption of unmanned aerial systems. Distributed Sky attempts to solve this by leveraging a global network of computers to process and store identity, traffic, and other information to secure and scale an aerial traffic management system.
Drones would be able to exchange information while airborne, optimizing routes to minimize risk of collision while simultaneously storing trajectories and flight information on-chain for verification and analysis purposes.
The most exciting possibility for this project is the potential enterprise adoption of drone delivery services that could be triggered via cryptocurrency transactions. For example, one could send a payment of ETH to a contract address that will autonomously activate a drone to procure and deliver your purchase directly to your doorstep.
The Clean Water Program
The Clean Water program was launched in 2006 and was based on three core pillars:
Change legislation to enhance protection over the water resources.
Promote the consumption of quality drinking water.
Continue producing scientific research on water treatment.
In line with these goals, Robonomics partnered with Tolyatti State University to track the water quality of the Kuybyshev Reservoir, the largest reservoir in Eurasia located on the Volga river. The project saw the creation of a solar- and battery-powered water drone that navigated the reservoir measuring pollutants and quality. The robot sensor would allow any user to request a measurement through a web application and the subsequent measurements would be codified on the blockchain. The entire process is managed by a smart contract.
The Urban Sensor Project
The Urban Sensor project focuses on a similar mission to the Clean Water program. The project seeks to track the air quality of urban environments with the goal of promoting public health. Again, measurements are tracked on-chain.
You can go to sensors.robonomics.network in order to see the currently installed sensors.
The potential to build on top of the Robonomics platform is exemplified by the DAO ICPI, a decentralized autonomous organization that utilizes Robonomics to register and track energy consumption and the subsequent carbon footprint offset for devices, companies, buildings, and more. Since data is generated and stored on-chain, manipulation of data and greenwashing is avoided.
DAO ICPI offers a range of services in line with this vision, and one of the most exciting is the use of an API for websites so that customers can assess the impact of their purchase and buy carbon offsets at point of sale. Again, the reliance of on-chain data makes this possible without a central authority.
Robonomics has two tokens associated with their platform: XRT and RWS.
$XRT is a utility token that is used as the native currency for the robot economy. $XRT allows users access to the Robonomics networks across Ethereum and Polkadot. When transacting with a robot on-chain, $XRT acts as both the transaction payment for services and as an exchange of data to operate it (think again of how the drone in the Open Sky program uses the blockchain transaction to activate and move to a defined coordinate).
$RWS is a subscription token to the Robonomics Web Services platform. Robonomics Web Services is an IoT cloud service that runs on top of IPFS, Ethereum, and Polkadot. One $RWS token provides 1 transaction per second for an IoT device on the Robonomics Parachain.
IV. The Fourth Industrial Revolution 👾
The economy of robots represents an environment that is automated and based on robots. Industrial tasks, complex calculations, or simply communication bots… Many of these tasks will be replaced by AI and highly technologically advanced machines.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution will see the creation of autonomous economic systems. Robonomics is building the technology that will facilitate this for advanced robotics.
Robonomics envisions a world where robots have their own smart contract addresses where they manage their own servicing. For example, a smart factory could be funded with a set amount of money and it could then manage its own inventory by interacting with the capital markets on-chain. It could order its own raw materials, assemble its own products, and distribute them to consumers via drone delivery services paid for by cryptocurrency transactions.
As more businesses move to automate processes to stay competitive, the demand for robots will grow. The Robot-as-a-Service model will likely see robot installations provided for minimal upfront costs with payment automated through smart contracts as a percentage of each transaction performed by the robot. This would enable mass installation of advanced robotics and further substantiate the robot IoT economy.
As we progress into the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, our cities and factories will become intelligent, automating our daily lives with robotics and IoT services. Robonomics is building the base layer to ensure that the robotic infrastructure is properly decentralized and trustless.
The robots are coming, and Robonomics is building the means of transacting with them.
V. Further Down the Rabbit Hole 🕳️
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