System Architecture

This section describes some of the important architectural features of ParaDrop. Our discussion will cover three major aspects of the ParaDrop design.

  • The ParaDrop WiFi router
  • The ParaDrop cloud controller
  • The ParaDrop API

ParaDrop WiFi router

The ParaDrop router is the key part of the ParaDrop platform. In addition to being a WiFi access point, it provides the substrate on which edge computing services can be deployed. We have built the reference ParaDrop routers based on the PC Engines APU2 single board computer. The image below shows a router built with a PC Engines APU board.


In addition to the PC Engines APU2, the ParaDrop software implementation can be run on various other hardware platforms as well as virtual machines. Please refer to Hardware Support for more information about hardware setup for ParaDrop routers.

ParaDrop cloud controller

The ParaDrop cloud controller is hosted at and provides a central location for tracking and managing ParaDrop routers as well as a Chute Store for software distribution. Users and developers can sign up for a free account. For end users and administrators, it provides a dashboard to configure and monitor the ParaDrop routers under their control. The dashboard enables users to manage the services (called chutes) running on their routers. For developers, it provides the interface through which applications can be registered as ParaDrop chutes available for installation on routers.

Due to the highly distributed nature of edge computing, the central cloud controller is not strictly required for edge applications to work. Each ParaDrop edge node has a publicly-documented local API and can be directly managed using the pdtools command line utility. Considering this, we have elected not to release the source code for the cloud controller at this time. If this would have an impact on your decision to use ParaDrop, please contact us.

ParaDrop API

ParaDrop exports the platform’s full capability through an API. Based on the functionality and location, the API can be divided into two parts: the cloud API and the edge API. The cloud API provides the management interfaces for applications to orchestrate the chutes from the cloud. Examples include resource permission management, chute deployment and management, and router configuration management. The edge API exports the local context information of the routers to the chutes to do some useful things locally. Examples include local wireless channel information and local wireless peripheral device access.