Using a combination of blockchain technologies and a gaming-inspired simulation platform, the Makerverse platform is giving robotics engineers, enthusiasts and even hardcore gamers the ability to create robots within an incubated and protected market environment.
The massive multiplayer online robotic engineering simulation, powered by Unity 3D and the ERC-1155 token standard pioneered by EnjinCon, will let users build, collaborate, buy, and sell robots and other machines in an integrated workshop that’s also a war game and engineering marketplace. The concept is to give robot engineers “an initial, frictionless, risk-free route to market and user testing.”
The Blockchain Robotics Engineering Consortium (BREC), which is developing the Makerverse, recently announced it would utilize Enjin’s blockchain platform and ERC-1155 token standard. The group also released a draft version of a yellow paper that provides further details of the Makerverse project and its goals.
Robotics Business Review recently spoke with Patrick Mockridge, founder of Makerverse and the BREC, about the formation of Makerverse and its goals of revolutionizing robotics development.
Making playing field more level
Q: What was the inspiration for you to begin creating Makerverse?
Mockridge: My attempts to improve systems and processes in the engineering industry were continually thwarted by bureaucracy and “support functions” that never supported me, and always blamed me for pointing out what was wrong and trying to fix it.
When I left engineering to start afresh in technology, I found that roboticists were facing exactly the same challenges.
For all the Black Mirror-esque dystopian horrors that spring to mind when anyone mentions robots, what is more terrifying is how hard it is for an engineer to bring their solutions to market.
Q: What are the main problems it is aiming to solve?
Mockridge: Makerverse can be thought of as an online digital incubator for robotics engineers. We aim to level the playing field and smooth the road for anyone wishing to bring their solutions into the world and sell them.
Q: Is using Makerverse easier than traditional robotics development, and in what ways?
Mockridge: We aim to take the code completely out of making robots. Today there are many good tools, such as the Robotics Operating System, but the barrier to entry for the ordinary person is almost impossibly high.
Users must learn Linux command line, Python, C++, and become familiar with a number of tools, which can be slow, finicky, and buggy.
We want to strip all this away and give our users a pure gaming user interface with intuitive controls. Whereas ROS may take six months to become proficient with, we aim for Makerverse to take six hours, perhaps even just six minutes to get started.
Q: What is your timeframe for launching Makerverse, and how do you intend to recruit the community for the site? For robotics engineers who are unfamiliar with blockchain, can you explain the value of using this technology as part of Makerverse?
Mockridge: We already have a great Telegram channel with over 500 members. We will need around $300,000 to get a beta to market, but in crypto there are plenty of people with money looking for credible good new ideas.
Putting a timeframe on it is difficult, as I cannot just shove a few teenage computer science students in front of a computer to get this out, like they did with Facebook. It needs experienced people, quite special people. But I know those kinds. The main barrier is just paying them, I guess.
Team dynamics, recruiting users
Q: Talk about the team you’ve gathered to help create this, and their value to the Makerverse.
Mockridge: Loic Sauce is an economics professor at ISTEC, James Jones is aiming to lower the cost of autonomous manufacturing by 90% using modular robotics, and John Sokol is a pretty big deal in robotics.
Together we have a nice wide and expansive view to speak authoritatively on the robotics market and industry and suggest workable solutions. I found them through networking, knowing people who know people.
What is more important for the Makerverse community – to get existing robotics engineers and creators to adopt the platform so they can receive monetization for their work, or to encourage new developers who are unfamiliar with robotics to try it out to expand the development talent pool? How do you balance those two communities?
Mockridge: Good question. I think the hardcore roboticists making the robots will be selling to the casual or new users. That relationship will be maintained by strong networks of trade between the communities, which will encourage education, mentoring and strong competency-based hierarchies within all groups.
I have found that people tend to behave themselves when they are buying and selling to and from each other. Economics tells us this as well.
Q: Once these robots are created through Makerverse, is there a way for developers to begin physical production of them, or to somehow create real robots from the digital creations? Will it be possible for people to create businesses out of the work on Makerverse?
Mockridge: We aim to eventually attach blueprints and CAD models to the most advanced robots, allowing users to play with them in the game, but also 3D print them at home.
Perhaps if Cubespawn takes off as well there could be a modular manufacturing center just down the street from you in 20 years’ time.
That’s where we are aiming to go, and from this model plenty of new businesses will be able to be formed. I picture university students starting electric car companies from their dormitories using tools like Makerverse much like Facebook was founded while I was at university. The sky is the limit.