I'm going to assume that you know who and what The Pirate Bay are.
With the development of GPS controlled drones, far-reaching cheap radio equipment and tiny new computers like the Raspberry Pi, we're going to experiment with sending out some small drones that will float some kilometers up in the air. This way our machines will have to be shut down with aeroplanes in order to shut down the system. A real act of war.I applaud their ingenuity, but I think this can be improved upon.
We're just starting so we haven't figured everything out yet. But we can't limit ourselves to hosting things just on land anymore. These Low Orbit Server Stations (LOSS) are just the first attempt. With modern radio transmitters we can get over 100Mbps per node up to 50km away. For the proxy system we're building, that's more than enough.
The LOSS concept has several drawbacks. First among these is power consumption and payload weight constraints. The Raspberry Pi is a low power device, but still draws juice via micro-USB, at up to five watts. On top of which, TPB propose to broadcast a wifi signal from their LOSS drones. To blanket an area of a square kilometre with a strong enough signal to sustain a high data rate (they say around 100mbps) is going to take both a decent antenna and a fair amount of electricity. All of which is going to drive up the weight, complexity, and cost of the LOSS.
LOSS needs to either be self-sustaining (which implies solar propulsion, along the lines of ELHASPA or NASA's Pathfinder aircraft) or it's going to have to land regularly to take on fuel. (I am ruling out nuclear propulsion because I assume The Pirate Bay do not have access to a supply of fissionable materials. Otherwise, it's Game Over for the MPAA.) This means that a cat-and-mouse game can be easily won by the authorities; there's no need to deploy air-to-air missiles over built-up areas when you can just have the Police keep an eye out for pirates refuelling their drones after midnight.
The sad truth is, quadrotors and small UAVs have lamentably poor airborn endurance, with flight durations measured in double or triple digit seconds rather than minutes, let alone hours. And baloon-type UAVs have the slight problem of being at the mercy of the winds, or requiring an anchor cable (which again makes them trivially easy for the Police to take down).
Rather than looking up at the stars, I believe the Pirate Bay should be looking down at the sewers. Their robot minions would be better modelled on the humble sewer rat than on the soaring seagull.
In the city, you are never more than three metres away from a rat. They're spectacularly successful. We've built them a wonderful habitat replete with high-speed autoroutes — storm drains and sewers — and convenience stores to snack from in the shape of dumpsters and trash. And ground level is where most of us wifi users happen to be, most of the time.
Small ground-traversing robots would not be subject to the same weight penalties as airborn drones. The wifi range would be shorter, but their power consumption would be lower and they'd be far more concealable — it's quite easy to imagine a ratbot that is, literally, no larger than a real rat.
Powering ratbot would be easier, too. In suitably hospitable environments Pirate Bay operatives could lay down inconspicuous inductive charging mats plumbed into power outlets. Alternatively, SlugBot shows the way towards a truly autonomous ground-dwelling robot—one that hunts for biological prey, digests it, and uses an on-board microbial fuel cell to provide electricity. In an urban environment ratbot need not hunt and kill moluscs to survive; instead, it could subsist on pizza rinds and the dregs from Mountain Dew cans, which would doubtless be easier to stalk and kill. Indeed, the rich pickings behind any fast food outlet would attract ratbots to the very same location where bittorrent users might congregate to furtively use their provided bandwidth.
Finally, if ratbot detects the presence of Police ferretbots in the neighbourhood, it can make its escape in a number of ways — climbing a nearby wall, clinging to the underside of an automobile (an especially efficient way of spreading the mesh network to other cities), diving into a storm drain (better hope the waterproof seals hold!), or asking a friendly Pirate Bay user for a ride.
So tell me, what are your ideas for cool uses for RaspberryPi?