The integration of technology of blockchain and automotive industry is capable of providing solutions to some of the most pressing automotive issues. Blockchain is distributed ledger technology i.e. a shared database that exists on multiple computers across a distributed network.
It is a peer-to-peer structure, rather than a client-server arrangement and is composed of blocks, which are simply transaction records. The blocks contain contents and an identifying header and each block is time-stamped. The each block is linked to the preceding and following blocks, forming a blockchain.
It uses a distributed network of computers is to reach a consensus on whether or not a transaction is valid. Once added to the chain, blocks cannot be altered, to prevent unauthorized access to data public and private keys are used.
Blockchain offers advantages like security, high execution speed, transparency, cost reduction etc. In automotive industry it can find application in vehicle safety and data security, supply chain transparency, manufacturing, automotive financing, smart contracts, infotainment etc.
Several companies are now working on blockchain to come up with better products, for example, Porsche in collaboration with the Berlin-based start-up XAIN is currently testing blockchain applications directly in vehicles. This makes the Zuffenhausen-based company the first automobile manufacturer to implement and successfully test blockchain in a car. XIAN uses the strengths of modern machine learning algorithms, particularly reinforcement learning, to stabilize its own Ethereum-based low-energy Blockchain. The company aims to use distributed machine learning to train self-driving cars on the basis of local data, such as weather conditions.
Toyota Research Institute (TRI) is also exploring blockchain and distributed ledger technology (BC/DL) for use in the development of a new mobility ecosystem that could accelerate development of autonomous driving technology.
For this TRI is collaborating with the MIT Media Lab (MIT ML) and other industry partners to foster a digital environment where users – both businesses and consumers – may securely share driving and autonomous vehicle testing data, manage ride-share and car-share transactions and store vehicle usage information that could be used in the setting of insurance rates.
Another company PARKGENE has developed a scalable blockchain-based platform that enables drivers to book parking directly from individual parking space owners at lower prices, with convenience. The company through its decentralized technology aims to supply new parking spots in already crowded cities, which now remain unutilized, by enabling not only peer-to-peer but also the seamless integration of all existing parking technology.
CarBlock, a new company has been launched that intends to used the decentralized blockchain ecosystem specifically designed for future transportation applications.The company aims to the major pain points in the current connected car and transportation industry like data ownership, data collection, data exchange, Application Infrastructure etc.
A new consortium Blockchain in Transport Alliance (BiTA) also is working to apply blockchain to the trucking industry. Many companies across the trucking supply chain, like UPS, Salesforce, McCleod Software, DAT, Don Hummer Trucking, have joined BiTA, and there are about 1,000 more applicants. The alliance aims to create a common framework to spur the development of blockchain applications for logistics management, asset tracking, transaction processing and more.
Several automakers and technology companies have joined hands to form a consortium to explore blockchain and its role in reinventing mobility and addressing industry shifts. Some prominent names being BMW, Bosch, Ford, General Motors, Groupe Renault, IBM, ZF etc.
Named MOBI, the Mobility Open Blockchain Initiative, the consortium seeks to foster an ecosystem where businesses and consumers have security and sovereignty over their driving data, manage ride share and car share transactions
Through an open-source approach to blockchain software tools and standards, the MOBI consortium hopes to stimulate more rapid and scalable adoption of the technology by other companies developing autonomous vehicle and mobility services.
The blockchain technology has started making inroads into the automotive industry and with time we may witness more companies making use of this technology to come up with innovative products and business models.