Blockchain technology is being looked at seriously by businesses all around the world into how it can provide solutions to age old problems and challenges.
Applied correctly, blockchain technology could drastically improve the efficiency, productivity and most importantly, profits of some of the world’s largest brands.
One of the industries expected to benefit the most from these emerging technologies is the automobile industry.
Major automobile manufacturers are planning the next generation in cars. Smart cars to be precise, cars with enhanced connectivity, mobility, customer experience and comfort, and of course autonomous vehicles which in order to operate safely, need access to an enormous amount of data.
Blockchain technology is quickly proving itself as an incredibly valuable part of the team for smart vehicle manufacturers.
How can blockchain be applied to cars?
Because it’s publicly accessible, secure and broadcasts are almost instant, blockchain technology can be used to improve almost every part of the car manufacturing process.
- Parts and material tracking
- Data for autonomous vehicle learning
- AI in the manufacturing process
- Device connectivity
- Sensor feedback for enhanced safety
- Cryptocurrency as payment for electric vehicle charging
This is just a short list of some of the many ways blockchain can be applied to the vehicle industry.
How are industry leaders using blockchain technology to improve their cars?
The vast majority of leading car manufacturers are beginning to apply blockchain technology.
A completely new infastructure must be built given the vehicle manufacturing industry is almost a century old and nothing major has changed. Blockchain technology has given birth to a new wave of creativity among the world’s leading car brands and they’re coming up with some truly exciting concepts, designs and plans.
Ford blockchain involvement:
Ford pioneered the production line, bringing the first assembly line into play when they began the mass production of the Model T in 1908. 110 years later and they’re still innovating as they look to blockchain technology to help further improve the systems Henry Ford gave to the world.
Back in 2017, Ford announced on their careers site they were looking for a blockchain engineer to develop new enabling mobility technologies to support the Ford Smart Mobility solutions.
We are looking for a strategic thinker and researcher to lead and pioneer work in the branch of Blockchain technology applied to mobility use cases that would help deliver superior user experiences for our customers, it said.
More recently though in April 2018, Ford Global Technologies, LLC has been issued a patent for a vehicle-to-vehicle cooperation system that could lead the way to the digital future of vehicles and cars.
The system will allow autonomous vehicles to communicate with one another, in theory preventing accidents and collisions. Safety is of course the primary concern when it comes to automated cars, and in a world where cars can communicate with one another, much faster than humans are able to, vehicle safety looks set to improve dramatically.
Volkswagen blockchain involvement:
Volkswagen are possibly one of the most advanced companies as far as implementing blockchain technology goes. At least publicly.
The Chief Digital Officer for Volkswagen, Johann Jungwirth who heads up Digital innovation for all 12 companies under the VW brand, including Porsche, Bentley, Lamborghini, and Audi, has recently joined the IOTA board of directors.
At the moment, the main collaboration between IOTA and VW is that they’re feeding data collected from thousands of vehicles all around the world. This data is being fed into the data silos at IOTA to be used to further improve autonomous driver technology.
The IOTA Tangle does have other exciting potential use cases for Volkswagen however that they may tap into in the future. On the IOTA website they state their intentions to create a world where ‘everything is a service’.
While the whole world has adopted the ‘Sharing Economy’ in areas like driving and accomodation, IOTA enables a whole new realm where anything with a chip in it can be leased in real time. Most of our belongings stay idle for the vast majority of time that we possess ownership of it, but through IOTA a lot of these things like Appliances, Tools, Drones, eBikes etc. and resources such as computer storage, computational power, WiFi bandwidth etc. can be turned into leasing-services effortlessly.
Imagine a world where drivers no longer have to purchase a vehicle of their own, but instead share vehicles as and when they need it. Kind of like an Uber but without the driver.
Now there are no clear announcements that Volkswagen will be offering this kind of service at the moment. Driver less technology is still in it’s infancy, and there are still huge safety concerns and precautions which need to be ironed out before a service like this can be offered to the masses. It’s certainly an area that is likely to be considered in the future though as the technology improves.
Toyota blockchain involvement:
Japan based Toyota Motor Corp currently lead the world’s automobile industry. Worth over $170 Billion, it comes as no surprise they’re exploring the applications blockchain technology could be applied to.
It seems they’re already preparing for a world where driverless vehicles own the roads. Like Volkswagen, they recognise the need for enormous amounts of data in order to make vehicles safe. Every driving condition and possibility needs to be considered, and the machines operating the vehicles must be well equipped and know exactly how to deal with such an event.
“Hundreds of billions of miles of human driving data may be needed to develop safe and reliable autonomous vehicles,” said Chris Ballinger, director of mobility services and chief financial officer at TRI. “Blockchains and distributed ledgers may enable pooling data from vehicle owners, fleet managers, and manufacturers to shorten the time for reaching this goal, thereby bringing forward the safety, efficiency and convenience benefits of autonomous driving technology.”
They are also looking into ways in which blockchain technology can help drivers save money on their car insurance premiums. If data is constantly being collected from the vehicle, blockchain could provide a constant feedback loop which would enable usage based insurance where safer drivers are rewarded with lower premiums.
If driverless technology does take over, some drivers may still choose to drive their cars manually. (giving a whole new definition to the concept of manual vehicles). At present, even in vehicles which are fully autonomous, drivers are still required to stay fully alert and be prepared to grab the wheel and control the vehicle should there be a problem.
When working correctly, technology is far superior to human capabilities, but computers can run into problems of their own such as malfunctions or bugs which could cause serious problems.
Toyota are also looking at the possibility of using blockchain technology to improve their financial services. Of course the first ever use case for blockchain was with Bitcoin, and given the capabilities a distributed ledger has, Toyota are looking seriously at how it can help make vehicles more available and more affordable.
“Toyota Financial Services is excited to join the R3CEV consortium to advance the use of distributed ledger technology in finance. We believe this technology will ultimately lower costs, increase efficiency and make auto finance more transparent for our customers,” said Chris Ballinger, the company’s CFO and global chief officer
Again, the possibilities are still being researched and explored, and the future is certain to be exciting. We’re looking forward to other announcements about how cases blockchain technology is being explored by some of the world’s leading companies.
Thanks for reading and if you know of any other exciting possibilites or use cases for blockchain technology, please let us know in the comments.