2747860026_a19115ee3b_o.jpg
Wikimedia_Foundation_Servers-8055_24.jpg
1280px-TT-Copter_OctoCOpter_high_lifting.png
SupaiUSMailMules.jpg
6927031379_24255b89bc_o.jpg
Osprey.jpg
2747860026_a19115ee3b_o.jpg

The Smart Case


SCROLL DOWN

The Smart Case


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.

The Top/Base Plates of 12cm Standard Smart Case.

The Top/Base Plates of 12cm Standard Smart Case.

Small Standard Cases

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:

  • 12cm by 12cm Square Base - Small items, 5 DVDs in cases.
  • 12cm Diameter Circular Base - Bottle of wine, a spool of DVDs.
  • 12cm by 30cm Base - Loads of A4 letters.
  • 30cm by 30cm Base - Much larger objects.
  • 12cm by 48cm Base - Long things.
  • 48cm by 48cm Base - Large flat items.

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

 

 

Image: www.flickr.com/photos/22206162@N03/2747860026/

Wikimedia_Foundation_Servers-8055_24.jpg

The Package Router


The Package Router


Once a item is in a Smart Case and has a 3PDN it can be placed into the closest available Package Router where it waits until a Pigeon is available to carry it to the next Router on it's next Step.

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.

  1. A simple Sending Router which can hold a Smart Case and call a Pigeon.  Either static or portable and Smartphone operated, they will be within easy reach of the sender and may not be secure enough to be left unattended.
  2. A Static Package Router which can buffer many Smart Cases with tens or hundreds of slots. This will be the most used type of Router.
  3. An Inbox.  A simple receiving only router which accepts Smart Cases then moves or drops them into a secure locker ready to be collected by the Receiving User.
  4. A Mechanical Router is a robotic Package Router which can receive, sort, connect and distribute directly to Mules.  This device could be located in a bus station or in large facilities such as hospitals.

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.

Photo CC 3.0: Wikimedia Foundation

1280px-TT-Copter_OctoCOpter_high_lifting.png

The Pigeon


The Pigeon


The Pigeon

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:

  • Grip and release the top connector of the Smart Case securely in a fully controlled manner.
  • Read the 3PDN and ensure they are gripping the correct Smart Case. 
  • Move autonomously between Package Routers with no human input.
  • Respond with built in collision avoidance for static and moving objects.
  • Be able to collide with people and property without easily injuring them.
  • Operate in all conditions under a defined decibel limit.

A Pigeon should also be able to:

  • Reach the destination Package Router with the Smart Case without needing to charge.
  • Operate in the prevailing weather conditions of the area where it is based.  Being grounded due to high winds, rain or snow should be the exception not the rule.
  • Be able to resist GPS spoofing and other forms of remote hacking.

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. 

SupaiUSMailMules.jpg

The Mule


The Mule


6927031379_24255b89bc_o.jpg

The Power Perch


The Power Perch


The Power Perch

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 Auctioning 

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.

Image CC 2.0: Loozrboy on Flickr

Osprey.jpg

The Hawk


The Hawk


What happens when a Pigeon goes down?  And what happens when a Smart Case is dropped?

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.

Using Traditional Carriers as a Backup System

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.

Bounty or Honor System?

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.