NASA Is Bankrolling a Blockchain for Quadcopter Communications

NASA has been conducting tests on quadcopter swarms for at least a year. (NASA)

Two U.S. tech firms are building NASA a blockchain-based communications solution they believe has potential for the space agency’s quadcopter fleet.

  • Orbit Logic and the Fraunhofer USA Center for Experimental Software Engineering won $124,800 in NASA funding Tuesday to build “Space Communication Reconstruction and Mapping with Blockchain Ledgering,” or SCRAMBL for short.
  • While the proposed SCRAMBL is far from the launchpad, the system as described in a brief seeks to use blockchain to propagate data between networking satellites, increasing their communication efficacy, coordination and “overall awareness.”
  • “Lightweight and tailored” algorithms will shore up communication breakdowns, according to the SCRAMBL project brief. If one node cuts out, the rest will quickly and dynamically adapt.
  • Such flexibility could be of particular use for NASA’s budding army of tiny drones moving in tandem, the SCRAMBL project proposal said. NASA is currently spending billions on an octocopter mission to Saturn.
  • As pointed out by the two firms, quadcopter swarms need to stay nimble in inhospitable environments, where communication is spotty but operational awareness remains paramount. They told NASA that blockchain could be just the ticket.
  • NASA did not return CoinDesk queries, and Orbit Logic did not pick up calls.

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