Developing WorldMarkets

Farming Solutions in Emerging Economies Through Blockchain and AI-Powered Drones

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A coconut farmer in Papua New Guinea has used a drone powered by blockchain and artificial intelligence, and charged by renewable energy, to count his yield in a unique trial conducted in the Pacific island nation. The UK-based started Flyingcarpet went to Papue New Guinea’ capital city then travelled four hours to get to the small village of Kokopo to conduct this trial last year. Farming employs more people in developing nations than any other industry, yet innovation within the sector is lacking. Julien Bouteloup, an entrepreneur and blockchain technology developer with university degrees in electrical engineering and AI machine learning, came up with the idea for Flyingcarpet whilst travelling last year to more than 20 countries.

Flyingcarpet is powered by the AIR Network protocol, a decentralised autonomous services network enabling people to deploy IoT devices such as drones to collect data in a timely, terrain-unspecific and cost-efficient way, which can help poorer communities automate tasks that are often laborious and expensive.

Bouteloup, Founder & CEO of Flyingcarpet, remarked: “Namaliu Jr., who owns the coconut plantation, couldn’t believe that the drone could capture a video and show him how many coconuts there were in his entire plantation. He told me it usually takes his workers many hardworking days to do this. This groundbreaking proof of concept demonstrates just a fraction of the potential that AI-powered drones with blockchain technology can do for improving the lives of people in emerging economies like Papua New Guinea, who typically do not have access to smartphones or the internet,”

The AI-powered drone, operated by Flyingcarpet, was able to help Namaliu Jr. count the number of coconuts growing in his entire plantation, which spans 100 hectares, by collecting this data using its high-definition cameras. This information enabled him to optimise his farming efforts and work effectively with his supply chain partners.

Namaliu Jr commented: “There are huge advantages to being able to count the number of coconuts this way. You can better understand and estimate the return on your crop harvesting, as well as prevent coconuts from being stolen,”

The drone worked in sync with the Flyingcarpet device, a solar-powered charging and docking station which can be used as a base for any drone initiated into the start-up’s network.

Bouteloup added: “When I was in PNG, I saw that villages were often remote and isolated with no main roads to connect them as the country is mainly mountainous with deep valleys. I wanted to find a way to harness the power of this advanced technology to radically improve services like agricultural productivity, medicine or water delivery and more, while also providing poor communities with a steady income stream. Yet this is just one exciting use case for Flyingcarpet. The Air Network, and the machines which operate within it, has the potential to transform services across many industries, from the energy sector, infrastructure, logistics, as well as humanitarian efforts,”

There are four beneficiaries of the Flyingcarpet network:

1. The Flyingcarpet device owner who can generate an income stream by allowing the extensive network of drones to recharge and dock
2. The drone owner who can connect their drone to the network to perform requested tasks and receive payment in return
3. Developers who receive token payments for building applications for the Air Network which are then utilised by the drones
4. Businesses that can benefit from the services that autonomous drones can deliver, such as rooftop analysis, thermal imaging for buildings, transportation of goods and monitoring of crop progress.

Viktor Tron, who was one of the first employees of the Ethereum Foundation and the main developer behind Swarm, a distributed storage platform and content distribution service based on Ethereum, became Flyingcarpet’s first advisor. Jane Thomason, the Abt Associates Global Ambassador for Global Digital Transformation and a world-leading advocate for women in blockchain, joined Tron on advisory board.

Tron commented: “Julien and I share a common vision of fully decentralised supply chain economies. Drones are the future and the Flyingcarpet project offers a decentralised solution to industries like agriculture and infrastructure. Julien is a passionate and dedicated entrepreneur and I believe he is the most capable person in the field to bring this project to scale,”.

Thomason stated: “Flyingcarpet shows a lot of promise in contributing to emerging markets by providing an income source to the bottom billion, grow businesses and provide services in various industry such as agriculture, infrastructure, and health,”

Matthew Warner
Based near Windsor, England, Matthew Warner is an enthusiast for innovative, cutting edge technologies. He is a B.Eng. graduate in engineering with honors from the University of Warwick and also holds an PGCE in education degree. Matthew is a member of Mensa.