German automobile maker Porsche said it is testing in-car apps based on blockchain that allow customers to transfer data more quickly and securely. The Zuffenhausen-based company said the move, when successful, would make it the first car manufacturer to implement blockchain in a car.
"In collaboration with Berlin-based startup Xain AG, Porsche is currently testing blockchain applications directly in vehicles," the car maker said in a statement.
The applications tested include locking and unlocking the vehicle via an app, temporary-access authorisations and new business models based on encrypted data logging. These applications could be developed further, for example, to improve autonomous driving functions, Porsche said.
It also said that a protected connection to vehicle data and functionalities can be established using blockchain. "Third-party providers can be integrated without the need for additional hardware, simply by using smart contracts," it explained. Smart contracts trigger transactions if some criteria are met.
Blockchain is a decentralised protocol for data transactions between business partners. It also forms the basis of well-known cryptocurrencies Bitcoin and Ethereum. Every change is recorded in chronologically arranged data blocks, making blockchain transparent and tamper-proof.
This could hold enormous potential, according to Oliver Döring, financial strategist at Porsche. “We can use blockchain to transfer data more quickly and securely, giving our customers more peace of mind in the future, whether they are charging, parking or need to give a third party, such as a parcel delivery agent, temporary access to the vehicle. We translate the innovative technology into direct benefits for the customer,” he said.
Founded by Leif-Nissen Lundbæk and Felix Hahmann, German startup Xain offers various blockchain and artificial intelligence solutions, with a particular focus on industrial apps. The company, in partnership with Oxford University and Imperial College, has developed a blockchain system that significantly reduces the energy spent on mining. The low-consumption model makes it ideal for use in mobile devices and vehicles.
The startup also won the first Porsche Innovation Contest on blockchain last summer and went on to work on infusing its blockchain tech into Porsche Panamera, a sports car.
Blockchain for vehicle history in Dubai
In a separate development, Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has said it wants to use blockchain to support a system in 2020 that would provide customers with a history of their vehicles from “the manufacturer all the way up to the scrapyard”.
The Dubai project, according to local media reports, may be expanded to the entire country of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
“The platform benefits many stakeholders including car manufacturers, dealers, regulators, insurance companies, buyers, sellers and even garages, providing transparency and trust in vehicle transactions, preventing disputes and lowering the cost of services. It tracks ownership, sale, and accident history to create smart, more-efficient systems for supply chains,” Mattar Al Tayer, chairman and executive director at RTA, was quoted as saying by news firm Arabian Business.