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Author Topic: The Robotic Courier Network Thought Experiment  (Read 2967 times)
kiba
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October 31, 2010, 10:14:14 PM
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Small robots that can deliver small packages from one location to another on air and ground. They are tracked through an encrypted interface.

Operators operate robots remotely, share code and data for further improvement of courier AI and credited through bitcoin micropayment system.

Bigger payments incentivize courier operators to pick up object and deliever it to another location where other operators can pick it up.

Obviously, something need to be figured out to prevent operators engage in robotic combat for packages, not get into traffic accidents, not get package stolen, and so on.

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October 31, 2010, 10:24:45 PM
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Imagine a botnet of these!
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October 31, 2010, 11:03:06 PM
 #3

Small robots that can deliver small packages from one location to another on air and ground. They are tracked through an encrypted interface.

Operators operate robots remotely, share code and data for further improvement of courier AI and credited through bitcoin micropayment system.

Bigger payments incentivize courier operators to pick up object and deliever it to another location where other operators can pick it up.

Obviously, something need to be figured out to prevent operators engage in robotic combat for packages, not get into traffic accidents, not get package stolen, and so on.

Would taking a deposit from a robot who wants to pickup a package be sufficient? Example: Package is worth 200BTC so you take a 300BTC deposit on pickup and pay 310BTC on confirmed delivery.

I have a hunch that "robot wars" won't be a problem. If a robot is worth a lot more than a typical package or delivery fee then a small risk of damage would stop shenanigans. Robot theft/hijacking would probably be a slightly more challenging problem. Self destructing robots?

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kiba
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November 01, 2010, 01:25:02 AM
 #4

Small robots that can deliver small packages from one location to another on air and ground. They are tracked through an encrypted interface.

Operators operate robots remotely, share code and data for further improvement of courier AI and credited through bitcoin micropayment system.

Bigger payments incentivize courier operators to pick up object and deliever it to another location where other operators can pick it up.

Obviously, something need to be figured out to prevent operators engage in robotic combat for packages, not get into traffic accidents, not get package stolen, and so on.

Would taking a deposit from a robot who wants to pickup a package be sufficient? Example: Package is worth 200BTC so you take a 300BTC deposit on pickup and pay 310BTC on confirmed delivery.

I have a hunch that "robot wars" won't be a problem. If a robot is worth a lot more than a typical package or delivery fee then a small risk of damage would stop shenanigans. Robot theft/hijacking would probably be a slightly more challenging problem. Self destructing robots?


Only operators with the proper key can control the robots.

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November 01, 2010, 03:05:05 AM
 #5

Small robots that can deliver small packages from one location to another on air and ground. They are tracked through an encrypted interface.

Operators operate robots remotely, share code and data for further improvement of courier AI and credited through bitcoin micropayment system.

Bigger payments incentivize courier operators to pick up object and deliever it to another location where other operators can pick it up.

Obviously, something need to be figured out to prevent operators engage in robotic combat for packages, not get into traffic accidents, not get package stolen, and so on.

This will happen, imo.  Sooner or later.

Protecting packages won't be an issue.  If the technology exists to allow a robot to navigate through a complex urban field, then it will almost certainly have also some equipments to track/watch the package and prevent theft.  Also, nobody has to know how valuable is the package, and therefore random theft won't be lucrative.

Small flying drones already exist.  What we would need now is enough AI to allow those drones to fly from a address to another, while avoiding obstacles and such.  I think it will happen, but not in this century.
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November 01, 2010, 03:25:47 AM
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Small flying drones already exist.  What we would need now is enough AI to allow those drones to fly from a address to another, while avoiding obstacles and such.  I think it will happen, but not in this century.


Adapt autonomous driving technologies. Google cars are already driving themselves, avoid obstacles, and such.

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November 01, 2010, 03:35:45 AM
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Adapt autonomous driving technologies. Google cars are already driving themselves, avoid obstacles, and such.

Then I guess it will be done soon.  The car will park in front of your house, will send you a SMS with code for opening the car's door and let you retreive the package.  Maybe Google is planning to do that.  Could be a very lucrative business.

I still think it's far from being ready for production, though.  Automated driving is still a very tough AI application.  It's a bit like voice to text application :  it has existed for years now, but it's still not much convincing.
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November 01, 2010, 03:36:56 AM
 #8

Adapt autonomous driving technologies. Google cars are already driving themselves, avoid obstacles, and such.

Then I guess it will be done soon.  The car will park in front of your house, will send you a SMS with code for opening the car's door and let you retreive the package.  Maybe Google is planning to do that.  Could be a very lucrative business.

I still think it's far from being ready for production, though.  Automated driving is still a very tough AI application.  It's a bit like voice recognition :  it has existed for years now, but it's still not much convincing.


No, they're already driving in traffic.

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November 01, 2010, 03:40:36 AM
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No, they're already driving in traffic.

Doesn't prove anything.  It's still quite experimental.  And I assume Google cars are driving very slowly.

If it was already perfectly reliable we would see more of them.  There is a huge demand for companies for such an application.  They would save a lot on human drivers salary if they could just have robots drive their cars and trucks.
kiba
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November 01, 2010, 04:17:54 AM
 #10

No, they're already driving in traffic.

Doesn't prove anything.  It's still quite experimental.  And I assume Google cars are driving very slowly.

If it was already perfectly reliable we would see more of them.  There is a huge demand for companies for such an application.  They would save a lot on human drivers salary if they could just have robots drive their cars and trucks.


That's a false assumption, because they're driving on major Californian roads for thousands of miles.

Driving slower than traffic is quite dangerous.

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November 01, 2010, 04:33:55 AM
 #11

Driving is something that few humans can do correctly. I think that small autonomous airplanes are the way to go. A fleet them would be awesome! Tongue
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November 01, 2010, 04:47:03 AM
 #12

Driving is something that few humans can do correctly. I think that small autonomous airplanes are the way to go. A fleet them would be awesome! Tongue

I am in flavor of crawler/roller/climber bot. I guess that's technically trespassing people's property, but I don't think humans will care if robots are doing "business" on the roof.

Even so, climbers would serve the division of labor of carrying packages to suitable location for pickup. Basically, such bot would hold up the package into the air and let the plane "snatch" it away without even having to land. It just need to be in a location where a plane doesn't crash into a wall or electrical lines.

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November 01, 2010, 05:21:23 AM
 #13

One of the guys from google recently bought his own unmanned drone. Perhaps they are thinking along the same lines.

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November 01, 2010, 05:23:37 AM
 #14

Driving is something that few humans can do correctly. I think that small autonomous airplanes are the way to go. A fleet them would be awesome! Tongue

Luckily pizza delivery drivers dont get paid very much... I wonder if people would be more or less likely to tip properly? Cheesy

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November 01, 2010, 07:15:55 AM
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Only operators with the proper key can control the robots.

Of course, but they'll have valuable parts presumably. And probably you could just swap out the brain chip if you had to.

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November 01, 2010, 07:32:56 AM
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what about the Skynet rule?

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kiba
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November 01, 2010, 03:17:21 PM
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what about the Skynet rule?

What about it? They're just a bunch of autonomous individual courier AIs, not a single mind

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November 14, 2010, 10:16:23 PM
 #18

All this sounds like a hackers gold mine, i bet they can't wait for all this to start too.
kiba
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November 14, 2010, 11:00:34 PM
 #19

All this sounds like a hackers gold mine, i bet they can't wait for all this to start too.

Gold mine of what? If you want to connect to a courier bot, you need a key.

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November 26, 2010, 01:27:57 PM
 #20

Fully homomorphic encryption would open the possibility of 100% autonomous robots.

The robots store Bitcoin private keys inside a fully homomorphically encrypted program.

Whenever the robot gets repaired or refuelled (by whoever feels like doing it - there is no central authority maintaining the robots), the robot rewards that person with a few BTC.

Of course the robot would require some unforgeable proof that it has been refuelled or repaired, before sending a BTC transaction. I'm not sure how this could be done.

The robots could also "earn" BTC by delivering stuff for people and getting paid.

Vandalism is discouraged, because if you destroy the robot the BTC stored in its memory are gone forever. Remember that simply copying the memory is useless because it's encrypted, and decryption is only possible by interacting with the robot.

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