THINK TANK: A DAO for Deliveries?

New to Ethereum etc and wondering if this idea is technically feasible and whether it could be implemented in the real world. Discussion welcome.


Customer Story

  1. Alice wants to ship a package to Bob.

    Alice has installed a free app on her smart device. The app set up a PIN, created her Ethereum account and her own smart contract. Her contract's address is registered with this DAO. Alice funds her contract from her personal Ethereum account.

    Alice’s smart contract implements functions the system calls to inform her of Events from DAO-Delivery ("DAO").

  2. Alice places the item in a standard “shipping container”.

    Containers are inexpensive, light, highly-reusable, rigid boxes in various sizes for efficient packing. Designs for the containers are published so anyone may 3D-print or mass-produce them.

    Outlets and deliverers establish and maintain an inventory of containers. Their incentive is to grow the market by making containers available free or very inexpensively so that customers and deliverers will adopt.

  3. Alice uses the app to place her order and pays in advance for the delivery.

    The app does a real-time network check of the outlet-to-outlet links to ensure the delivery is feasible.

    The payment is a “bounty” for successful delivery. Upon completion, DAO automatically pays an equal share of the bounty to each bonded deliverer/outlet that handled the shipment.

  4. The app makes a digital “label”.

    Alice prints this on water-resistant paper and sticks it on the container. Many deliverers and almost all outlets maintain a supply of containers and can print labels to assist customers.

  5. The app creates a digital “seal” that Alice prints and applies to the container so tampering would be exposed.

  6. DAO automatically notifies nearby deliverers of the pickup.

    Alice may opt to leave the container at the location. This is convenient but at her risk if the container is lost before a deliverer picks it up. The deliverer scans the label and seal are valid/intact, and the app updates DAO.

Deliverer Story

  1. Dee wants to earn by working delivery so she installs the app.

  2. To be a Deliverer, Dee must post a performance bond.

    The bond is automatically forfeited if any shipment is lost or tampered with in her custody. The rate should be high enough to pose a disincentive to deliverers who might break into containers, yet small enough to allow smaller participants to the market.

    If Dee chooses to leave in good standing and has no outstanding shipments, she can close her contract and DAO will automatically return her bond.

  3. Dee’s app automatically notifies her of nearby pickups.

    Alice’s pickup appears. Dee selects it and the app temporarily hides the pickup from other deliverers.

  4. Dee picks up the delivery and scans the label/seal to confirm custody.

    Any time a handoff occurs the app scans the label and seal, digitally verifies them and sends an update message to the system.

  5. The app identifies nearby deliveries.

    Deliverers naturally prioritize deliveries over handoffs to receive payment sooner. If Bob is nearby then Dee will simply deliver it.

  6. If Bob is outside Dee's area then Dee will handoff the shipment to an outlet.

    The system helps Dee select the best outlet based on the network of inter-outlet deliverers.

  7. Some deliverers operate between outlets and profit by batching shipments.

    These deliverers assume the cost of maintaining equipment and doing the packing, loading and so on.

  8. After a few handoffs, Alice’s shipment arrives at Bob’s location.

    The final deliverer in the chain provides the system update. Bob might not be physically present so the package is left. Since the location read at this point matches the destination in the order, the delivery is deemed complete and DAO pays.

  9. Alice can query the handoff history to determine whether the package arrived or where it was last.

    She may later hear Bob never received the package. Perhaps the final deliverer simply kept it. Perhaps someone else intercepted the shipment where left before Bob could notice. Perhaps Bob is dishonest.

  10. Alice can file a complaint.

    The system allocates to the last deliverer in the chain. Accumulation of complaints causes the deliverer to lose their bond.

Outlet Story

  1. Oliver has space in a good location and registers with DAO as an outlet.

    Oliver must post a larger performance bond. The app makes his location visible to deliverers and customers. Outlets earn by assisting customers and organizing shipments so that deliverers can operate efficiently.

  2. Better-established deliverers watch the system for outlet-outlet opportunities.

    These more sophisticated operators may earn higher profit by batching shipments for longer, interurban and interstate trips.

    Depending on the destination and how well the network is established, a given shipment will handoff some number of times. The bounty-sharing approach establishes a collective incentive to be efficient and successful.

  3. DAO creates efficiency by performing constant outlet network analysis.

    Outlets enter "links" into DAO. The network analysis enables DAO to provide best recommendations for next handoff or delivery.

  4. A bonded deliverer may pick up a shipment from an outlet for last-mile delivery.

Business Story

(All numbers are wild guesses)
  1. Total cost of delivery must compete with commercial package delivery services and exceed their quality of service through anonymity and privacy.

    Same local: $5 (a single deliverer could do both pickup and last mile)
    Same city: $7.50 (split 3 ways among pick up Deliverer, Outlet and last-mile Deliverer)
    Same prov/state: $10 (pickup, Outlet, Deliverer, Outlet, Deliverer)
    Same country: $15 (probably one or two more intermediary Deliverers)

  2. Duration of shipment must be competitive with commercial services.

    Local delivery: same or next day.
    Same-region: within 4 days
    National: within 9 days

  3. DAO claims a small amount of bounty (e.g. $0.25) from each successful delivery for operations and support.

  4. Performance bonds that have been forfeited are applied to doing investigations and settling customer loss/damage claims. DAO includes a shipping insurance capability.

  5. A Foundation spends accumulated funds appropriately on projects that grow the overall market and improve efficiency.

  6. Shipments will get lost or pass the expected delivery date.

    A customer may track an undelivered shipment to a deliverer or outlet and complain. That custodian must return an update (within a reasonable time like a day) to confirm s/he still has custody, or have to admit responsibility for the loss.

  7. Performance bonds:

    Deliverer - $100
    Intermodal Deliverer - $1000
    Outlet - $1000

  8. Potential earnings:

    An individual deliverer may handle 50 deliveries/day to gross $125. Minus costs of own vehicle to net $100/day.

    A trucker working outlet-outlet deliveries across cities drives 400 packages per day to gross $1000. Minus costs to net $500/day.

    An outlet operator receives and organizes 300 packages a day for gross $750 day but pays for the space so nets out around $300/day.

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