Okay, you knew one of us was going to write about blockchain at some point – so here goes nothing.
Blockchain, as defined by the MIT Technology Review, is simply “a mathematical structure for storing data in a way that is nearly impossible to fake.” It has become a driving force in today’s tech world, but suffice to say that it has the potential to revolutionize (read: disrupt) many verticals. And the automotive industry is not exempt. Let’s explore how blockchain impacts self-driving cars, mileage and driver safety – three hot topics within the industry.
One of the biggest and most obvious disadvantages for autonomous vehicles is the lack of a centralized authority to guide and regulate the car – both on the road and in the dealership. As I mentioned in an earlier post, if not centrally connected, autonomous cars will have trouble communicating with each other. For example, a driverless Chevrolet may know not to cut in front of another Chevy but might cut off a Ford to optimize its route.
The Mobility Open Blockchain Initiative (MOBI) aims to bridge that gap. With auto giants like Ford, GM, Groupe Renault and BMW the hope of a driverless world may be closer than originally expected. Manufacturers wouldn’t have to create their own proprietary network. They’d just have to join an open network using the infrastructure and services that exist within it.
In the near future, Motus is going to tout the benefits of more effective mileage capture. Blockchain won’t just benefit those who are reimbursed for the business use of their personal vehicle. It will also certify the overall mileage on a car.
A recent National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study found that almost half a million vehicles are sold each year with false or altered odometer readings. That racks up a cost of over $1 billion annually. This could cause major problems for drivers who think of their car as their office. Blockchain would lock down a vehicle’s history, making it almost impossible to be tampered with. This would essentially create one single source of truth for anyone driving a vehicle.
One of the more meaningful use cases for blockchain is monitoring safety. By creating an irrefutable ledger of maintenance and safety, employers and their mobile workforces will benefit tremendously.
Safety, as it pertains to keeping a safe and properly functioning car, will become automatic and predictable. It will also drive down the cost of maintenance and repair. Using aggregated (de-identified) vehicle data, auto manufacturers could preemptively identify and correct defects and recalls (which I’ve explored in the past, as it relates to Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning).
Blockchain technology is a force to be reckoned with, especially within the auto industry. Its power lies in getting us closer to a driverless future, creating a source of truth for a vehicle’s true odometer reading and protecting all of us while we drive our cars (whether it’s for business or personal use). I’m super excited to see how all of these developments play out in the next couple of years, and I’m hopeful the world on the road will be a better place as a result.