I confidently estimate July 1st or earlier, but this will depend on feedback from users. The delay is not actually due to the planning fallacy (as would otherwise be the case). Instead it is because the project scope expanded to include Blind Merged Mining, which is itself a significant project. However, based on the feedback received as of June, it seems that Drivechain could be active in a January 2018 release of Bitcoin.

While technically, the Bitcoin network can upgrade via soft-fork at any time, traditionally we have always used a friendly (“patient”), process of accruing a 95% activation threshold. Which leaves the vote entirely up to the miners.

I expect Drivechain to be popular with miners. Sidechains mean more transaction fees for miners. They also mean a much cooler Bitcoin, which should mean a higher BTC price. Finally, Drivechain enables larger blocks through a heavier sidechain. Therefore, one might expect miners to activate the soft fork quickly. Optimistically, Drivechain could be available 2-4 weeks after miners decide to support it.

If miners refuse to activate the soft fork, it is still possible for users to activate it, and force it upon the miners (just as today’s users force miners to enforce all activated soft forks – activation of past soft forks is no longer optional for miners). This is riskier, but still very safe if user-support is overwhelming. If user-support is merely lukewarm (or unmeasureable), then we might turn to the exchanges for help.

The “blind merged mining” technology has not been developed is under development. It will take an unknown amount of time to code and review probably be finished by the end of the summer has recently been finished.

I am worried about bugs! However, Drivechain’s bugs can (probably) be found and fixed “in the wild”. Bitcoin’s design (particularly, the soft fork model), prevents any bugs in this software from affecting version that don’t have Drivechain. This limits the potential damage tremendously (if not completely).

Secondly, software developers are often overworked, and can’t prioritize their scarce review-time. Therefore, sadly, the projects that get the most attention are often those that “charge the mound”, so to speak.