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Project of the Day: ARIA’s open source drones for food transport

photo of Michel Bauwens

Michel Bauwens
22nd June 2013


“ARIA, Autonomous Roadless Intelligent Array, is an open source autonomous logistics infrastructure (Dronenet) that leapfrogs traditional road infrastructure”:

1. ARIA today (June 10) announced a strategic open innovation partnership with Ooooby to augment it’s local food delivery network using autonomous aerial vehicles (commonly known as drones). Under the partnership’s goal, Ooooby, an online farmers market, aims to one day deliver goods to customers by the use of self-navigating vehicles to land within metres of a smartphone.

2. a grand idea: creating an Internet-like network of AAVs that could one day allow someone to make a one-to-one sale with anyone in the world or send medication quickly to where it’s needed most, simply by delivering goods on a flying autonomous vehicle to its destination. But before Aria (that’s the name of Matternet’s open-source group) does that, it’s teaming up with ReAllocate–an organization that’s building a network of designers and engineers who want to use their expertise to work on humanitarian issues”

Here is how Aria Logistics explains their project, co-founder Arturo Pelayo Aréchiga, writes:

“As for Matternet, a team of 18 people worked on an open source concept for many weeks culminating a presentation and proof-of-concept using two arduino powered UAVs we assembled and bought from Chris Anderson’s DIY Drones store. Massimo Banzi also shared this in his February 2012 TEDtalk as an example of an Arduino project

We believed during the time of GSP that 3D printing would be an integral part of the shipping container ‘hubs’ because we saw them as an “on demand Home Depot”. Parts inside each of the retrofitted shipping containers could be 3D printed and delivered to an end customer via drone to the GPS coordinates of their cellphone where they placed the order from (dynamic location). [This ultimately became part of a collaboration we started with ReAllocate in San Francisco that eventually became "Project Blue Sky" and showcased at the Burning Man Festival in August 2012.]

The original concept of “Matternet” was an open protocol/ open source framework to enable hackers, DIYers, makers, etc. take on the concept and amplify it to however they best saw could solve a problem in their community or a business opportunity. Thus enabling people to build their own clusters and building “the Matternet” together.

After the Graduate Studies Program ended, half of the team understood “Matternet” to be a technology concept just like “the Internet” happens to be. No one company invented the Internet, hundreds of people build different companies, concepts, software, search engines, infrastructure and legislation to make it evolve over decades.

The “disagreement” came to be since Singularity University did not perceive “the Matternet” to be a technology concept, but a brand. Because it was treated like a brand, it was licensed to the other half of the original team members who within the team wanted to build hardware and software together for both proprietary/”undisclosed” vehicle design and ground station design (UAS). This is our fundamental difference: At ARIA, we believe there are hundreds of manufacturers of drones (with hundreds of filed patents). Also, none of these drones can talk to each other right now.

We came up with the name ARIA because it symbolizes the power of one voice with the accompaniment of the open source movement. (Also, we couldn’t use the word “matternet” since it was made into a brand and kept at SU).

In the conceptualization of the network, we see the action in the base station (shipping container/ UAS) because this is the network enabler.

There is no “air traffic control” for drones at the moment. You can multiply the drones by the amount of vendors and applications and you end up pretty quickly with thousands of flying objects that can produce high speed collisions very quickly. Forget about satellites and space debris. With ARIA, the “Intelligent Array” part of our name comes into play here because this is the open source guidance and A.I. engine running everything in the background, preventing collisions, negotiating landings, scheduling recharges, 3D printing replacement parts for the vehicles, etc.

We imagine a radical transformation of agriculture where..i.f I am a farmer in a remote area of Brasil and my tractor breaks down, I would loose many days finding a replacement part and installing it. With ARIA, we could have such farmer take a picture with his cellphone and send it to the artificial intelligence engine, have it recognise the part and place an order in the nearest ground station in relation to the farmer’s cellphone and have it 3D printed and delivered via drone to him in a matter of minutes!

ARIA would welcome different drone types and applications under a set of open interoperability parameters. We do this already with roads and bridges. Some roads have limits on the weight of the vehicles that can use them, others have limits on the height of such vehicles. This is exactly the same analogy but we will apply it to vehicles in the air and eventually water and LEO.

We believe we can enable a new generation of cost- effective services for water testing. If you were to couple a drone and a submersible vehicle (like the openROV from our friends at OpenROV.org) you suddenly have a system that can test water at variable depths and locations unlike anything that is currently used in rivers, lakes, tributaries and coastal areas worldwide.

All the above can be realized through open source and the engagement and involvement of the open source and DIY community. We want to build the Internet of Atoms together.”

Ariel Schwartz adds:

“”The ground stations are like the routers of the Internet. They can extend range and capacity of the drones,” explains Arturo Pelayo, the co-founder of Aria.

Pelayo imagines all sorts of uses for the open-source drone network once it gets up and running: HIV tests that can be quickly delivered to labs, eliminating potentially deadly waiting times; medicine delivery in remote areas; even observing permafrost disappearance and other global warming-related changes. Eventually, the UAVs might be able to transport people–but that’s not a priority. “If we make it easier for a villager in Africa who is manufacturing small necklaces to ship products through a cheap and ubiquitous network, their need to go into the cities is reduced dramatically,” says Yasser Bahjatt, co-founder and CEO of Aria.

Pelayo emphasizes that Aria will not build its own drones; rather, it will offer hardware as a service. “We are going to have hundreds of vehicles in the air, and we need to find a way to have an artificial intelligence network to maneuver traffic,” he says. Aria will be in charge of that network, while others can build open-source vehicles and applications–in other words, people can decide individually (or as part of communities) how they want the network to serve them.”

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One Response to “Project of the Day: ARIA’s open source drones for food transport”

  1. Arturo Pelayo Says:

    Thank you Michael and The P2P Foundation for having us featured today in your blog. Please feel free to contact us on twitter for any open conversations here: @arialogistics

    If you’d like to have a chat with us that is longer than 140 characters, you can e-mail me at: arturo [at] aria-logistics.com we are hard at work in our first Open Innovation Competition with Ooooby and other partners around the globe.

    We have also been looking to spread the word in forums we have been invited to chat and we are actively fundraising to attend them.

    All minds are welcome.

    Best,
    Arturo.

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