Major Automakers Are Bringing Blockchain To Cars
“Everybody wants that data” says Chris Ballinger, Chief Financial Officer of the Toyota Research Institute, “the car is the fourth screen and the next big data battleground. It’s a trillion-dollar prize.” But who will claim this grand prize? Some of the world’s most well renowned car manufacturers and tech giants have teamed up to launch the Mobility Open Blockchain Initiative. (MOBI) In addition to being the first coordinated response to blockchain technology, this coalition is by far the largest organization formed that will focus on blockchain use in the automotive industry. Other groups, like BIG(Blockchain Industry Group), have formed in the past but have never acquired the market share that MOBI has today. With over 37 companies, MOBI is working with a range of tech startups, as well as automotive manufacturers that account for “over 70% of global vehicle production”, in terms of market share. Founding members for the coalition include BMW, Ford, General Motors, and Renault.
MOBI aims to create common standards and programming practices to enable payments and data-sharing between cars. Looking forward, MOBI is looking to transform the transportation market with Blockchain. Some of the Projects MOBI will be working on include vehicle history tracking, autonomous machine and vehicle payments, secure mobile commerce, Data markets for autonomous and consumer driving, car sharing, and usage-based mobility pricing. MOBI hopes to stimulate more rapid and scalable adoption of Blockchain technology through an open-source approach to software and standards. Meaning programmers will be able to work together with code that is completely open to the public eye. This innovation is driving a new digital mobility ecosystem that will connect and optimize our future cars for the better.
In its essence, a Blockchain is a distributed and digitized ledger that can be used to record interactions between two parties. By tying each block of data in the chain to the previous block, the only way to compromise the system is to undo all of the data before it. Therefore, a blockchain gains security over time autonomously. Many have said in the past, however, that blockchain is too slow and complex for many functions, and even some blockchain supporters have said that this new technology may not be best utilized for a majority of business applications. Nonetheless, many use cases have already been identified and many are going live every day.
In addition to co-founding MOBI, Ford was recently awarded a patent that suggests they are considering the use of cryptocurrency to let cars on the road communicate with each other in an attempt to reduce traffic. The patent application goes to explain that “This system would temporarily allow for particular cooperative vehicles (sometimes referred to as ‘consumer vehicles’) to drive at higher speeds in less-occupied lanes of traffic and also to merge and pass freely when needed.” Merchant vehicles(automobiles used for freight, package delivery, consumer goods, etc.) voluntarily occupy slower lanes of traffic to [allow] the consumer vehicle to merge into their lanes and pass as needed. The application goes onto explain how, through the utilization of a cryptocurrency, messages could be sent between vehicles. “The CCMP(Cooperatively Managed Merge and Pass) system operates with individual token-based transactions, where the merchant vehicles and the consumers’ vehicles agree to trade units of cryptocurrency. The CCMP tokens are used to validate and authorize a transaction in which, at consumer vehicles request, the merchant vehicles either occupy slower lanes of traffic themselves, or allow the consumer vehicle to merge into their own lane and pass as necessary.”
Chris Ballinger, CEO of MOBI, said that while he was working as Chief Financial Officer and Director of Mobility Services at Toyota Research Institute, he realized the need for a consortium after running through several blockchain proof-of-concept projects. Ballinger goes on to say that “If each auto company is trying to develop … its own way of paying tolls, or providing a ride sharing service, it just doesn’t work; it’s the Tower of Babel”. People who think differently solve problems, thus MOBI was created.
Every piece of consumer data, be it where on a website was clicked, what state a customer is from, or how long they spend on a web page, is an insight into what would appeal to them and what you can then sell to them. In 2018, Data is one of the most valuable resources at a business’s disposal. Without information, businesses have little to tailor their products to the average consumer. The next frontier for data is in the average American’s car. Amazon is moving Alexa into cars. Apple is pushing their car play. Google has their car systems. The next battle for big data isn’t in our hands or on our laptops, it’s in the garage.
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