The Smart Case is a container which holds items being sent over the network. The Smart Case is the Package (referred to in the Physical Package Protocol) and is equivalent to the Packet in a Packet Switched Network.
Every Smart Case, whatever size, has a unique ID Number which contains information about the size and shape of the case, it's weight limits an any other information other PPP Assets need to know. It will also contain a Bluetooth LE chip which will hold the 3PDN.
For small Packages there will be standard sized Smart Cases with a connector on both the top, which is held by a Pigeon and the base which is held by a Package Router or Mule. The centre of the grip has a metal plate embedded within them so lightweight Cases can be lifted with a simple electropermanent grabber with no moving parts. Smart Cases heavier than about 1kg will need to have the circle catch in the middle for a stronger hold.
The Smart Cases will come in be various sizes and can fit onto the Package Routers like Legos squares onto a Lego board.
Standard Small Case Sizes:
The internal height of all cases is 30cm. The Top Plate and Base Plate are 1cm high each so the total external height of all Standard Cases is 32cm. The container part of the case can be any size or shape as long as it fits within the designated volume between the top and bottom case.
For storage cases can be designed to fold flat and stack on top of each other. The most compact way is to make a case which can compact down into the 1cm base and top plates and stacked on top of each other. This means that 15 compacted cases can be stored in the space of one standard case.
At present the current Smart Case Version is 0.3.2
Medium Smart Cases
Large Smart Cases
And Let's Go Larger
The Package Router are similar to the routers on the internet, and follow similar buffering and forwarding rules, though there are many physical configurations that can be divided into five basic types.
Package Routers will have a saved table of all the other Routers in the area. These can be updated or changed automatically based on the time of day, weather conditions and or if a Mule is nearby or due to be in range soon.
In the PPP concept the "Pigeon" is simply a robotic device which can pick up a Smart Case from one Package Router and deliver it to the next. As most Routers will be at roof height the Pigeon must be partly or wholly based on an aerial platform. Though we envisage multicopters will be the primary platform at first hybrid ground and aerial, fixed and rotary and even battery internal combustion powered devices would be possible as long as it meets the specifications. Limits and tolerances are yet to be worked out but the following are our starting point.
A Pigeon must be able to:
A Pigeon should also be able to:
The original idea for the Physical Package Protocol was for quadcopters to do a majority of the work in a network though with the introduction of the Mule concept their role has changed. There is a huge amount of research and development being done in the hobby and professional drone community which we follow very closely. Though at present Pigeons as we envisage them would not be cost effective enough to compete with human delivery in cities, in remote areas drone delivery platforms being tested and in some cases they are already out competing humans on price.
The Power Perch is the cheapest and easiest element of the Physical Package system to establish as it is a simple standardised charging point for the aerial based Pigeons.
It will hopefully be a secure stand with a connector that a Pigeon can grasp and charge in rest mode. The connector will be the same as the Smart Case top connector only anchored and powered to recharge the Pigeon.
The Perch can be as large or small, secure or remote as needed. They can be siply installed on any roof, street light, vehicle or structure with a power source. Emergency Perches can be set up easily as needed with on car roofs running from the batteries.
In remote areas where multiple charges may be needed for a Pigeon to make a single step, a single Package Slot can be placed next to a Perch so the Smart Case can be set down safely while the Pigeon is charging.
Power Perch locations can be preloaded into Pigeons and be updated easily as more come online or change positions.
Power Perch Service Providers can simply bill a Pigeon Operator by the time spent on the Perch, or if there is congestion, they can auction charge time to all the competing Pigeons in the area.
Most if not all flying Pigeons will have a standard Top Plate connector on their top surfaces so they should be able to be picked up and carried by any other Pigeon with a heavy enough payload rating. This means that if they lose power or break down they could be treated like a large Package and simply be delivered to a workshop for fixing. Sometimes Pigeon will land upside down or in difficult to reach places. This is where the Hawk comes in.
The Hawk is a Semi Autonomous Multicopter or ground based platform that is deployed to search for and retrieve fallen Pigeons and dropped Packages. It will need to be much more powerful and capable than a Pigeon and during the retrieval stage it would be controlled by a human operator with a First Person Video feed. The grabber or sky hook will also have to be quite dexterous to get at awkward stuck packages.
It would be role of specialist PPP Service Providers to develop their own Hawk platforms but here's a video to show what could be possible:
As a last resort, if a Hawk cannot retrieve a Package or Pigeon, a human can always be dispatched to do what humans do best.
Although we want the system to be robust there will always be failures. Smart Packages which are dropped and found in areas not reachable by Hawks could simply be picked up by members of the public and dropped into the nearest post box. Agreements between traditional mail carriers and PPP Service Providers could be established to provide this back up service at a prearranged price so there is no price gouging.
What incentives do members of the public have to forward dropped Packages? A bounty system of rewarding people for retrieving package could be established though this could have unintended consequences of people forcing the network to break just to get paid to fix it again.
A better system would be one based on mutual understanding that market based systems work most efficiently in low corruption environments.