IBM applies to patent drone security blockchain system

The application is the latest in a long list of patents the computing giant has applied for in recent years


IBM has applied to patent a system that would use distributed ledger technology as a solution for drone privacy and security concerns.

The blockchain ledger would be used to store data associated with unmanned aerial vehicle flights, in particular when a security risk is suspected, the patent application outlined.

"The chain can be considered a chronicle of a UAV’s path through time," the patent explained. "When a transaction is conducted, the corresponding UAV parameters are sent to one or more of the computing nodes in the system for validation. The one or more computing nodes establish a validity of the transaction and generate a new block. Once the new block has been calculated, it can be appended to the stakeholder's UAV blockchain."

It added: "Among many other advantages, the use of a blockchain infrastructure helps in identifying misbehaving UAVs by multiple parties and such activities are recorded in an immutable ledger."

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With the system, blocks could include a number of different data points that all relate to a drone's flight patterns, such as location, model number or any erratic behavior that's been logged.

The blockchain would also include variable block times that would change in response to environmental triggers.

CNN gave the example: "If a recreational drone flies too close to a restricted flight zone, it may trigger a risk flag, increasing the network's block time to provide airspace controllers with increased data on the UAV and, if applicable, its operator."

"Conversely, a drone carrying emergency medical supplies may be granted special permission to operate in restricted airspace since regulators can discern from blockchain data that it has the authorization to do so," CNN added.

The computing giant has recently shown a keen interest in becoming a key player in the blockchain industry as it was revealed that it has claimed second place in the most blockchain patents globally. In first place was Chinese technology firm Alibaba.

Last month, MarketsandMarkets revealed that the blockchain market is set to be worth $7.6bn by 2022.

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