to an ARK Invest white paper analyzing Mobility-as-a-Service, superior economics and increased convenience will
encourage adoption of autonomous cars by as early as 2019. As a result,
autonomous taxis will accommodate a ten-fold increase in vehicle utilization
rates, radically reducing the price of point-to-point travel and spurring a
fundamental shift in consumer behavior. It is fundamentally believed that
the taxi will grow to dominate personal mobility, disrupting the auto industry
dramatically and transforming the economy yet again, but it is the consumers
that stand to be the greatest beneficiaries of this transformation.
fully autonomous taxis may be a several years away, mobile taxi hailing
applications such as Uber and Lyft have already changed the ecosystem.
Convenience, ubiquity and the economics of mobile taxis are creating true
alternatives to car ownership.
statistics tell us that ridesharing services could have caused a cumulative
loss of 640,000 car sales globally through 2015 and may have caused another 1.9
million in forgone sales units in 2016, with Asian markets including China,
India and Southeast Asia experiencing faster adoption of ridesharing services
than more developed markets because of the infrastructure obstacles to driving
and parking cars in crowded urban centers.
that end, the Toyota Research Institute (TRI) is prototyping the Ethereum blockchain
as an alternative to Uber and Lyft through its recently announced consortium,
projecting that blockchains could help its vehicles provide more value to
owners by enabling seats, trunk space and other unused but potentially valuable
resources to be monetized.
In the future that TRI imagines, blockchain tools will make
it possible for vehicle owners to monetize rides, cargo space and even the
vehicle itself. With the assistance of blockchain technology, storage of
vehicle data, such as usage, owner info, drivers and passengers, can be
validated between two parties via executable distributed code contracts to
eliminate the need for financial intermediaries, which in turn will save users’
"The blockchain can
store data about the vehicle’s usage and information about vehicle owners,
drivers and passengers," said Chris Ballinger, the director of mobility services
and CFO at TRI.
TRI is working with Oaken Innovations — a finalist in the Consensus 2017 startup competition — and
Israel-based Commuterz, two companies working to develop blockchain applications
for car sharing, vehicle access, payments and carpooling.
Hudson Jameson, an Ethereum
developer and chief operating officer at Oaken Innovations, publicly stated that
the peer-to-peer car and ride-sharing platform can allow consumers to lease a vehicle
The proof-of-concept (PoC)
is being developed “in anticipation for the autonomous car future, where the
average consumer won’t own a car, but also, this provides utility now, allowing
individual and fleet auto owners to lease their vehicles to trusted and
identified riders,” said Jameson.
This will work by
supplying cars with a chip that contains “an Ethereum node, an IPFS node and
NodeJS with some supporting Nodejs modules,” according to Oaken Innovations’ website. Other technologies can be integrated as well, such as GPS, radio-frequency
identification (RFID) and wireless technology, which in combination “smartifies”
According to a short
introductory video, on the frontend, a
driver downloads an app which finds available cars, then can book one and pays
for it through the blockchain. The app communicates with the car through the
chip, allowing the driver to unlock the doors with just a click.
The IPFS node stores the
data, in a decentralized manner, so that the app knows how much to charge for
the use, with the transaction securely happening on the blockchain. That data
can then be shared with insurance companies to lower premiums or sold to car
companies for research, with Jameson having stated that the data-sharing is:
“More about setting up a
system that breaks through the silos that these large auto companies have
developed over time that limit collaboration. Additionally, a system like this
opens up the possibility of building autonomous incentive systems for sharing
the data, whether it be a consumer selling their own driving data or large
companies trading and selling their autonomous car driving data.”
TRI is also working with
the blockchain platform company Gem on evolving usage-based insurance, which
would leverage blockchain technology to tailor auto insurance based on specific
data collected around vehicle usage.
Toyota, which has revenue
to the tune of $200 billion a year, recently joined the Ethereum Enterprise
Alliance. In regard to the car-sharing PoC prototype, the company hopes to make
better use of an asset that has long held untapped potential for owners and the
“A car sits idle 99 percent of the time,” Balinger said. “The technology
we are working on is a way of monetizing the potential of owners of the asset
to utilize it at a much higher level and monetize the types of transactions
that are not monetizable today."
The “Driving the Future of Blockchains” series is presented by Gem, a sponsor of Distributed.com. Read a preview of the series here, part one here and part two here.