ICO Analysis: Robonomics Network

Robonomics Network is an ambitious network infrastructure, based on the Ethereum platform and created with the purpose of integrating ‘cyber-physical systems’ into “Smart Cities and Industry 4.0”.

Industry 4.0 is a topic which I first discussed back in May 2018 when I reviewed a token called ‘Productivist’ that aimed to provide blockchain based solutions for the manufacturing sector. Key concepts of 4.0 common across all sectors are: automation, interoperability, AI, and IoT (how they can improve efficiency as well as reduce costs).

This project is no different, incorporating autonomous cyber-physical systems (or CPSs) to replace human operators and to a degree, decision-makers. According to the white paper, the team hopes to:

“Expand the capabilities of Ethereum in order for the market of CPSs behavioural models supply and demand to emerge; describing the Robonomics agents operating system as the interface of the Robot Operating System compatible CPS to the robots economy network”

A ‘CPS’, according to a page on the website of the US government backed National Science Foundation, integrates “sensing, computation, control and networking into physical objects and infrastructure”. Examples include self-driving cars and medical monitoring systems.

In the words of Cisco a smart city “collects and analyzes data from IoT sensors and video cameras. In essence, they “sense” the environment so that the city operator can decide how and when to take action… [and] uses digital technology to connect, protect, and enhance the lives of citizens. IoT sensors, video cameras, social media, and other inputs act as a nervous system”.

History, Present and Future

The company’s first release and phase of operation came in Q1 of 2018, with what the company calls ‘Lighthouse’ (AKA the first release of software for providers). The second ‘Observerer’ was released the following quarter, which was when the team began to focus on analysing “network performance indicators” to measure progress and capability.

In Q1-Q2 of 2019, the Robonomics Network team plans to begin the ‘Cybernetics Economy’ stage of their operational roadmap. Finally, between the third quarter of 2019 and the second quarter of 2020 Robonomics Network will enter ‘Lights-Out’ stage. This presumably refers to the fact that the network is expected to reach full automation by this stage: requiring less human intervention, direct oversight or micro-management.

Furthermore, you can check the team’s Medium blog for up-to-date insight regarding the activity and progress of the project. For example: in June 2018 Robonomics Network started running in Ethereum main net and any ETH holder can become its provider.

Early September 2018, ‘Airalab visionary leader’ and ‘Robot economics architect’ Sergey Lonshakov published an article entitled Robonomics 2018: Let’s Sum Up. In it, he describes a working vocational trip off-site where a “tent city” was erected at the Zhigulevskaya Valley Technopark in Russia within which a four day “engineering crash course” took place.

The results of this trip included solidified plans and delegation for a variety of essential tasks for the Robonomics Network protocol development.

How it Works

The Robonomics Network team describes their efforts to combine “the economic and technical parts of communication between humans and machines into one transaction”, which will be achieved by using “a decentralized marketplace for robot liabilities contracts” and overcoming existing centralisation dilemmas facing the IoT and Robotics industries.

By decentralizing the storage of data and controls over variables such as interoperable appliances in a ‘smart house’ (gas, alarms, lighting, etc), the risk of server-side issues interrupting these processes would be mitigated. For example, downtime for maintenance or unauthorised intrusion / targeted attacks.

Latest and prominent product releases include the third of their beta stable-releases for the Robonomics Network communication stack. Like all components of the platform this beta is open-source, with source code available to view and download at GitHub. One of the features cited in the release is “new liability engine support parallel and sandboxing liability execution.”.

Additional products listed on the website at present include ‘Robonomics JS’: a language for Ethereum JS developers who want to create DApps for “smart cities”, and ‘Learning Center’ for “roboteers” to develop field experience in the implementation of p2p technology when creating multi-agent systems.

In November 2018, Robonomics Platform team member Sergey Lonshakov published a post on Medium entitled Robonomics Benchmark, November 2018 which summarized a series of fresh test results. Load test results averaged at 60 messages per second (using IPFS Pubsub), whilst another test focused on communication between two ROS-compatible robots using the eponymous protocol.

Team

Robonomics Platform is a project from the Airalab team, an open-source development community founded in 2015). The Airalab website doesn’t list any team member as a manager but rather as different departmental staff (although they do distinguish by experience with the inclusion of ‘Junior’ status members).

This is contradicted on the company’s Medium profile somewhat, where w¬riter Sergey Lonshakov assumes the title of ‘Airalab Visionary Leader / Robot Economics Architect’. From this, we can assume that he similarly takes on something of a leadership role for the project as well.

According to Lonshakov’s LinkedIn profile, he is a ‘Robonomics Platform Architect’ and ‘Blockchain Project Developer’ at Airalab. He has been working with the company and in research and development on blockchain with robotics since 2015, after having graduated from Information Technologies, Mechanics and Optics (ITMO) University in St Petersburg, Russia.

ITMO recurs in the LinkedIn profiles of the majority of the rest of the team also as place of study and work. Both apply to Aleksandr Kapitonov, PhD: a Robot Economics Academic Society Progressor at Airalab who has been working at the university since 2015, starting as an assistant professor and advancing to the position of associate professor in September 2018. He also mentions his role in the creation and management of several decentralized technologies.

Advisors

The advisory board of Robonomics Network is comprised of just three members at this stage, who are as follows:

  • Alexey Bobstov: Professor and doctor of technical sciences. He specialises in system analysis, control and information processing.
  • Max Gutbrod: Greatly experienced in M&A, finance and restructuring; and has previously assumed the role of managing partner at the Moscow branch of Baker & McKenzie CIS, Limited.
  • Babak Kia: Adjunct Professor at Boston University

Token

The Robonomics Network economy utilises a proprietary and eponymous token, which also goes by the title ‘XRT’. It will be built upon the Ethereum blockchain as will all smart contracts, in part because of the fact that you are able to add technical details. This is in addition to being able to bypass intermediaries between consumer and robot.

May 2017 saw the completion of the first round of ICO investment for the company, achieving 5000 ETH in total (valued then at $810,000) and the team plans to launch a public token sale at an unannounced point in time. The maximum cap of this event will be 10,000 ETH and will take place in the form of a “Crowdfunding Dutch Auction”.

The last update available on the website was posted on the 21st November 2018 at the time of writing. It said that the team is currently “expecting the legal opinion of the Financial Market Authority (FMA).”.

Verdict

Great presentation online, transparency, and fully open source. This includes the Whitepaper, which is both comprehensive and concise at a lean 26 pages.

Risks

  • Industry 4.0 often correlates with commercial globalism, and working in international markets brings exponential liability regarding data laws (such as Europe’s GDPR) -1
  • There is a chance of high competition from larger international corporations working with blockchain -2

Growth Potential

  • The team shows a great level of understanding regarding the theory and practical aspects in the fields of blockchain and robotics +2
  • Having similar educational backgrounds and geographical basis, it appears much of the core team share experience and are likely close-knit +1
  • Russia has a strong reputation regarding blockchain (including certain individuals like Vitalik Buterin) with many successful projects coming out of the area +2
  • Transparency: Lots of updates on the website and personal medium blogs of various team members, as well as the code being completely open source +3
  • Team members’ experience shines through across their LinkedIn, GitHub, and Google Scholar pages +1
  • Whilst not the most well-known group of advisors, those supporting Robonomics Network have considerable achievements and influence in their own rights +1

Disposition

Worth following, and if you are technically oriented: check out the code!

7/10

Investment Details

  • Symbol: XRT
  • Platform: Ethereum
  • Presale: Unannounced (Pending Legal Approval)
  • Hard Cap: 10,000 ETH
  • Whitepaper: https://robonomics.network/robonomics_white_paper_en.pdf
  • Website: https://robonomics.network/en/

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.