Vehicle manufacturers and technology suppliers come together to explore blockchain

09 May 2018

9 May 2018

A number of large carmakers are coming together with software groups to create a new initiative dedicated to using blockchain technology.

The Mobility Open Blockchain Initiative (MOBI) is made up of General Motors (GM), BMW, Renault, Bosch, ZF, IBM and the IOTA Foundation, and is chaired by Chris Ballinger, who until recently was CFO and head of mobility services at Toyota Research Institute.

Blockchain, the technology behind the virtual currency Bitcoin, is a technology for distributing records of data between parties, a distributed ledger technology (DLT). Each set of records is called a block, and the blocks form a chain, linking the blocks together (hence the name). Once blocks are created, the data block and the chain link to the previous block are permanent and cannot be modified. If the blocks contain financial information, the blocks, therefore, form a permanent ledger of financial accounts. Since the whole ledger is held digitally over the desired network of computers (or the internet), the ledger can be programmed to trigger payments automatically, such as if a car sharing service user requests a ride.

The group intends to explore blockchain and distributed ledger technology for use in the development of a digital mobility ecosystem that could make transportation safer, more affordable, and more widely available.

′We are proud to be a member of the MOBI and partnering with other leading global companies to drive industry standards that unlock the potential of DLT for the mobility sector to establish a seamless, safe, and affordable mobility experience. As the world is starting to recognize the huge potential of decentralised ledger technology it is essential to establish the key functionalities for a scalable ecosystem based on the principles of open source, collaboration and permanent innovation that drives broad-scaled technology adoption,’ say ″ŠDominik Schiener and David Sønstebø, Co-founders and Co-Chairmen of the Board of Directors at the IOTA Foundation.

The consortium will work to ensure blockchain-based services are compatible with vehicles from multiple brands to avoid an annoying scenario in which a car can’t transact with a system it’s not compatible with. It also will host educational seminars for members.

There could be many practical uses for blockchain in the automotive industry, such as allowing consumers to pay for tolls and electric vehicle charging stations as well as creating public records that track vehicles and parts in the supply chain. The technology’s rise, however, in the shadowy world of cryptocurrency bitcoin, has left some companies hesitant to embrace it.