The Toyota Research Institute (TRI) announced a collaboration with MIT Media Lab on a blockchain-based project to federate data generated by networked cars, with applications to forthcoming smart self-driving cars. The project was announced at Consensus 2017.
“Hundreds of billions of miles of human driving data may be needed to develop safe and reliable autonomous vehicles,” said Chris Ballinger, CFO and director of mobility services at TRI. “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 project will allow businesses and consumers to securely share driving and autonomous vehicle testing data, manage ride-share and car-share transactions, and store vehicle usage information that could be used in the setting of insurance rates. It’s worth noting that networked cars are already generating lots of data, and future self-driving cars equipped with on-board sensors for autonomous driving are expected to generate much more data.
“More and more content is being generated, particularly the premium cars, and in three to five years, you’ll be getting much more than you do from a smartphone,” said Michael Tzamaloukas, vice president for autonomous drive and advanced driver assistance systems at leading auto supplier Harman, in an interview with IEEE Spectrum. “It will greatly benefit a number of safety apps—kind of like an invisible airbag. It will make your ride more comfortable, more informed; you’ll be able to use data from other cars to see beyond the corner.” Tzamaloukas noted that platforms like Harman’s cloud-based Map Live Layers, which combines data from networked car sensors, are expected to generate lots of data.
The TRI will collaborate with the Digital Currency Initiative at the MIT Media Lab.
“I’m excited Toyota is spearheading this initiative that uses blockchain technology to create an open platform where users can control their driving data,” said DCI Director Neha Narula. “Our hope is that other industry stakeholders will join this effort to bring safe and reliable autonomous vehicles one step closer to reality.”
Other partners include BigchainDB, building the data exchange for sharing driving and autonomous vehicle testing data; Oaken Innovations, developing an application for P2P car sharing, vehicle access and payments with a newly created mobility token; Commuterz, working with TRI on a P2P carpooling solution; Gem, working with Toyota Insurance Management Solutions (TIMS), Toyota’s joint venture telematics car insurance company; Aioi Nissay Dowa Insurance Services, working on the usage-based insurance platform; and Toyota Financial Services (TFS), working on related financial tools.
In related news, TRI is joining the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance, an enterprise collaboration focused on Ethereum blockchain technology.
“Blockchains and Distributed Ledgers are disruptive technologies with the potential to positively impact future mobility by accelerating the development of autonomous driving, lowering costs to consumers, and making more efficient use of the existing mobility infrastructure,” said Ballinger. “Toyota Research Institute supports the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance and its members in promoting common standards and tools to accelerate the adoption of this technology and the potential benefits for Toyota’s customers.”
Picture from David Berkowitz/Flickr.