Politics 5 December 2012 The internet leaks into the real world Cyberspace reaches out to objects via drones. Print HTML The Economist reports on a bizarre idea concocted - where else - at Singularity University in Silicon Valley. The idea is to have the internet move things around. The group reasoned that whilst the rapid dissemination of information has helped many in developing countries, the rapid dissemination of objects, such as medicines, might help too: The plan is to build a network of autonomously controlled, multi-rotor unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to carry small packages of a standardised size. Rather than having a drone carry each package directly from sender to recipient, which could involve a long journey beyond the drone’s flying range, the idea is to build a network of base stations, each no more than 10km (6 miles) from the next, with drones carrying packages between them. In other words, it is possible for the internet to get physical. The inventors are calling their scheme "the matternet”, which shows considerable restraint, rejecting, as they must have done, "the matrix". It's an exciting idea, but the Economist pours a bit of cold water on it: For the delivery of drugs in developing countries, a rider on a motorbike may be a much simpler and more rugged solution. Maintaining a network of drones—a complex, immature technology—is unlikely to be easy, particularly in the remote areas that Matternet intends to target. It may be that congested city centres in rich countries will prove a more promising market. The most contentious issue though is likely to be regulation - an unruly wild west of an internet is one thing - an unruly internet that can move things around is another. › My fantasy chancellor would announce a new path for fiscal policy Drone powered internet becoming reality. Photograph: Getty Images Subscribe More Related articles An unmatched font of knowledge Leader: On capitalism and insecurity Cabinet audit: what does the appointment of Liam Fox as International Trade Secretary mean for policy?