In this four-part series, “Driving The Future of
Blockchains,” we will explore the automobile ecosystem at large and the role
that these “minimum viable partnerships” might play in shaking up an industry
that sees the future automobile as not just as another physical asset, but a
machine driven by software, with intelligent sensors bringing data from
physical endpoints to actionable and monetizable insights, turning a
depreciating asset whose value plummets as soon as it’s driven off the
dealership lot into a data-fueled profit center.
future model of traditional cars, electric and autonomous, will be embedded
with more sensors than ever before and able to capture data that make them more
aware of external environmental factors and allow them to become
“super-connected” intelligent devices.
These sensors will not only integrate with a driver’s
other intelligent devices, but they will collect data about the car, navigation
and external elements like weather and road conditions. This will make our cars
their own computing machines, profound and far-reaching, as the data collected
by them are exposed to analytics software to extract actionable insights.
This vision is precisely in line with blockchain
technology, which truly lays the foundation for this future avalanche of data.
It is precisely this data which is valuable for a broad ecosystem of
stakeholders which begins with the driver and moves to the manufacturer and the
insurer, interested not only in the state of the vehicle for safety,
maintenance and insurance premium pricing, but for accident reporting and
“Hundreds of billions of miles of (human driving) data
will be necessary to develop the vision of a safe and reliable autonomous
vehicle,” Ballinger said in an interview.
“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.”
The next-generation information architecture for this smart
vehicle enables critical data about each vehicle to be recorded and reconciled
for all stakeholders to eliminate inefficiency in information sharing about car
identity, conditions in real time and accident reporting, auditing and settlement. It
is through the use of blockchain technology, a crucial part of the backend
infrastructure that transmits and orchestrates data sharing directly from cars
to a permissioned and distributed network of stakeholders.
And the automotive industry has taken note, with some key
players leading the way. The companies can see that embracing the potential for
connectivity is an opportunity to improve their products and the way they serve
“Automakers are ramping up their connected car efforts
for several reasons,” reported Business
Insider. “Internet connectivity in vehicles allows car companies
to release software updates in real time, which is extremely important during a
recall. Second, automotive companies can use data from the car to analyze its
performance and obtain valuable data on how drivers use their cars. Finally,
more connectivity provides more ways for automakers to cross-sell their
products and services to customers.”
Insider cited a KPMG survey of 200 automotive executives that
identified BMW, Daimler (a member of the Hyperledger Project) and General
Motors as the perceived leaders in connectivity and self-driving efforts.
Toyota, which recently introduced a research institute
dedicated to artificial intelligence, ranked fourth and Google, which can
hardly be considered an auto manufacturer at all, garnered 1 percent of the
The survey, however, was conducted last year and does not
reflect some of the most recent strides being taken by automakers. Porsche, for
instance, did not rank in the survey, but recently announced a
competition for startup firms working with blockchain technology.
Steps like these mark huge progress from where the
automotive industry once stood, even recently.
“There was very limited data that was coming off of cars
in the past, now cars are filled with all of these sensors that measure driving
behavior, location data, they are becoming a computer and the wealth of data
that will be generated is immense, but there really is not a great
infrastructure for leveraging and sharing that data to create a new class of
applications,” according to Micah Winkelspecht, CEO and founder of Gem, a
company working with the Toyota family of companies to make this future a
An autonomous vehicle essentially functions as a
supercomputer that, by definition, must have the ability to combine and process
a large amount of structured and unstructured data in real time to make
split-second decisions about what directions to go and what turns to make. An
autonomous vehicle is a platform of applications — real-time mapping, image
recognition, computer vision, voice recognition, robotics, data integration,
security and more.
“Driving the Future of Blockchains” series is presented by Gem, a sponsor of
Distributed.com. Read the preview of the series here.