Data-Driven Accessible Micro-Logistics Authenticated with Smart Contracts Using Satellites

The UK domestic parcels market is highly fragmented with 16 major national carriers, delivering in excess of 2.5 billion parcels in 2020. Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated home-working and e-commerce trends.

Many local deliveries remain unconsolidated, and therefore generate higher driver mileage than necessary, creating inefficiencies and negative environmental impacts. Even if a customer orders two items from the same retailer, they often receive two separate deliveries.

The Galileo program is Europe’s initiative for a state-of-the-art global satellite navigation system (GNSS), providing a highly accurate, guaranteed global positioning service under civilian control and the first to offer authenticated navigation messages to all civilian users in the world, free of charge; i.e. open- source.

Blockchain technology and its Smart Contract capabilities is already well- established as a promising solution for governments and the supply-chain; to enable shared business processes that require high levels of trust, transparency and accountability. This includes major government backed programs by the EU, US, India and China.

Our proposed research explores the feasibility of a micro-logistics platform for last-mile delivery consolidation operations. Increased real-time visibility and transparency of contractual arrangements and parcel tracking data will enable greater efficiency in managing deliveries and minimise the overall transport costs and carbon footprint.

It examines new capabilities arising from fusion of satellite based authenticated timing and positioning with blockchain technology, combining the baked-in cryptography of both systems to provide a secure and efficient micro-logistics solution.

An initial design of a blockchain-based framework will be developed, oriented around the consumer, retailer, carriers, local couriers, micro-consolidation-centre (MCC) and smart contracts.

With the cities of Stratford-upon-Avon and Canterbury as our test-bed locations, we set out to prove:

  • How many trips can we save?
  • How can we improve the transparency, accountability and data authenticity of parcel orders?
  • How can we enable trusted contractual arrangements?
  • How can we lower the cost barrier for establishing MCCs?

We have developed this research proposal in partnership with Iconic Blockchain, Peera, Warwick Manufacturing Group, Canterbury City Council and Stratford Climate Action.