A Tor-inspired distributed parcel delivery system
The Onion Road provides an anonymous, distributed parcel delivery system based on Tor, an onion routing service. Simply provide a start and end location, specify the number of intermediate nodes that fits your budget, and sit back and let Onion Road handle all the scheduling for you.
Tor is a global, anonymous network of computers that provides secure, anonymous communication between users. It is typically used individuals seeking to protect their identity online, such as journalists, intelligence services, and political dissidents. For further explanation of how Tor works, visit https://www.torproject.org/about/overview.
What's it for
Onion Road is designed for situations where Tor would be helpful in the physical world, such as ensuring anonymous, secure delivery of sensitive information in non-digital form. For example, when organizations seek to share large volumes of information, it is often faster and cheaper to deliver a large shipment of hard drives rather than send it over the web. Onion Road seeks to give senders the same anonymity and ease-of-use in the physical world, as Tor does for senders in the online world.
How it works
Onion Road routes parcels through multiple intermediary PostMates couriers to randomly-chosen landmarks or business locations, before the parcel arrives at its final destination. No courier knows both the origin and final destination of the parcel to be delivered, allowing for anonymous sending of confidential files.
Onion Road is a proof-of-concept. For full onion routing security, parcels should analogously be wrapped in successive layers of security safes, each of which have a combination that can be unlocked by sending instructions to a particular courier in the circuit. Much as messages in Tor are wrapped in successive layers of encryption, parcels should optimally have methods to prevent physical access.
In recognition that transferring a matryoshka-doll-like setup of layered safe boxes is expensive and unfeasible for most interested parties, Onion Road has the option to route all parcels through storage facilities. In this setup, the parent company managing an Onion Road service would set up and manage multiple vaults at local storage facilities. Couriers would pick up and drop off parcels at these storage locations, ensuring that they never meet face-to-face, preserving anonymity and ensuring security.
To ensure a proper incentive structure for all parties involved, users of Onion Road should use Bitcoin for transactions on the network. Couriers should not be paid until they have successfully arrived and dropped off the package at the vault location, at which point they will be automatically paid in bitcoin released from escrow. Operators of Onion Road driven by security concerns may wish to invest in more capital-intensive operations by setting up their own storage waypoints instead of using storage facilities as intermediary storage depots.