BASIC: Blockchained Agent-based Simulator for Cities

Arnaud Grignard

Autonomous vehicles (AVs), drones, and other types of robots will revolutionize our way of traveling and understanding urban space. In order to operate, all of these devices are expected to collect, analyze, and share sensitive data about our daily activities. However, current approaches of handling these datasets relies on centralized models (e.g., corporate databases, cloud-based services, etc). Recently, it has been shown that the security and privacy-preserving capabilities of these centralized models present significant challenges for future deployments. For this reason, this project proposes BASIC, the Blockchained Agent-based Simulator for Cities. This tool aims to verify the feasibility of using blockchain as a communication layer between agents (e.g., citizens, robots, etc.) in simulated urban scenarios. In order to test the proposed tool, we propose a car-sharing scenario populated with AVs within the city of Cambridge (Massachusetts, USA).

In our experiments with BASIC, we modeled the city as an agent-based simulation (1) where citizens (2) request rides. AVs receive these requests (3) and channel them into a docker instance they have running on their on-board PC (4). These docker instances are connected in a mesh-based network creating a blockchain system where transactions from the citizens are added (5). By following this process, relevant data about the car-sharing service as well as the information about the citizens is distributed among all the AVs creating a massively distributed computation device. In this research, the relevant literature was studied and new methods for simulating an “urban blockchain” were developed. Experiments were conducted under different scenarios to test the feasibility of the approach, especially regarding the memory requirements of the proposed solution. 

Results show that even the size and the memory requirements of the blockchain grow with the number of AVs, as well as the duration of the operation, today’s technology is capable of fulfilling a small- to medium-sized system. Finally, this work offers conclusions and design suggestions about the combination between blockchain technology and agent-based simulations opening the path towards future and more advanced systems.

BASIC was developed using Gama Platform.  

Click here for the Open Source Repository.

Read the full paper here.