As next-generation cars become a reality, the advancements in blockchain technologies will make it indispensable in the future for automobiles.
As they say, data can be magnificent. Vehicles of today are evolving into something so much more than just a mode of transport. 21st-century cars are moving data centres with onboard sensors and computers that are constantly capturing information. In this regard, blockchain has the potential to strengthen trust and collaboration among businesses, consumers and even vehicles, as it offers more secure, traceable transactions and better access to and transparency of information. Recently, the CEO of Sony, Kenichiro Yoshida, announced at CES 2020 that the next mega-trend from 2020 onwards will be mobility, and the company unveiled its ‘Vision-S’ autonomous car, that has over 33 sensors to monitor surroundings and passengers as well employ its own proprietary AI technology to offer a ‘connected’ car that combines safety, reliability, comfort and entertainment.
As stated in this image from Zigurat, there is already a handful of companies that are investing in blockchain for the automotive sector, and according to a study by IBM, 62 percent of automotive executives are convinced that blockchain will be a disruptive force in the auto industry by 2021. The same study also found out that 54 percent of pioneers in the industry plan to implement their first commercial blockchain network at scale within the next three years.
Probably the biggest indication that a blockchain revolution is taking place in the automotive sector is the launch of MOBI (Mobility Open Blockchain Initiative) back in 2018, which brought together major automakers such as BMW, General Motors, Ford and Renault as well as leading blockchain organisations to develop common standards for applying blockchain and distributed ledger technologies (DLT) in the mobility industry. Blockchain in car manufacturing will help supply chain management and manufacturing processes. In terms of finances, processes that require manual data insertions, transactions and such can all be logged and updated throughout the lifecycle of the vehicle. When it comes to vehicle safety and data security, cyber attacks in the era of connected vehicles is a real threat, so blockchain cryptographic roots can fend off intrusions and ensure stored data is secure. Interestingly, in the field of telematics, connected cars have elements of software-based navigation, vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication, and a host of other services that can be kept secure by the heightened level of encryption that blockchain offers. Even insurance is reimagined, as ‘smart insurance’ implemented via blockchain enables the non-manipulable and transparent logging of the vehicles’ sensor data in a decentralized network.
A variety of blockchain initiatives from leading manufacturers are already in play. Ford recently launched a blockchain pilot to ensure the ethical sourcing of cobalt for the manufacturing of lithium-ion batteries. Interestingly, Volkswagen went to great lengths to build a blockchain-based tracking system to prevent odometer fraud, a widespread problem in the industry. Companies like BMW and General Motors are absolutely committed to blockchain tech for the sharing of self-driving car data and even Hyundai is also using cloud-based AI with the help of Hyperledger Fabric to automate the supply chain financing ecosystem and reduce manual processes to ultimately improve customer experience. When one looks at the totality of the industry, it is staggering to note that the global connected vehicle market is expected to grow from US$42.1 billion in 2015 to US$122.5 billion in 2023. Make no mistake, blockchain in the automotive sector is just getting started.
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