Blockchain technology, as we know, is versatile and goes far beyond cryptocurrencies. Bitcoin mining, NFTs and decentralized finance (DeFi) are favorite topics for the public these days, but many industrial and consumer goods sectors are already adapting the technology to their needs. One of them is the automobile sector.
Car manufacturers have historically played a leading role in terms of investment and technological innovation, and blockchains are no different. Companies like Ford, BMW and traffic managers are aware of the technology’s potential and have already started to implement it. Next, we will see what type of blockchain is used and how they are used.
Or use of public blockchains vs. private
Large vehicle manufacturers have found in private blockchains a better solution for many of their industrial and administrative issues.
Private blockchains are more interesting, in this case, as they require authentication for a user to log in as a node in the system. The number of nodes is smaller, which theoretically decreases reliability, transparency and resilience against corruption, but in return it demands less processing power and energy and increases operational speed and privacy.
These blockchains do not publicly and transparently expose commercial databases on a worldwide network, maintaining a high level of internal control and preventing the occurrence of scams and hacker attacks.
The ways of applying blockchain technology to the automotive sector range from common elements to the industry, such as supply chain management, to more specific points.
Supply chain management
There are two major problems in this sector, which afflict industries that operate on a large scale: the delay and complexity in tracking products and the corruption of data records. Blockchains can be helpful with these two issues.
In the case of corruption, it is common for companies to be susceptible to fraud in supply chain records. The most common ways are the manipulation of material and product origin data, quantity and payment information, and the addition of counterfeit items.
Blockchains introduce data storage transparently and in ‘read-only’ (immutable) mode, which eliminates the possibility of corruption along all stages of the chain. In addition, it makes tracking the history of articles simpler and more dynamic, which can be done by reading a simple bar code in a universal system.
The company is using blockchain to combat a common type of fraud in the industry, tampering with speedometers. The initiative will prevent dishonest car dealers from offering vehicles with misleading mileage, increasing security and protecting customers from scams.
Ford is employing blockchain raw material tracking for ethical reasons. The article of interest is cobalt, used in lithium batteries. This metal has been mined through child exploitation in some countries, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The company is creating a blockchain-based financial ecosystem with artificial intelligence in the cloud, in order to automate manual processes, reduce costs and improve the shopping experience.
Mobility Open Blockchain Initiative (MOBI)
MOBI is a non-profit consortium that aims to create blockchain standards aimed at facilitating worldwide transport, making it more efficient, equitable, sustainable and decentralized. The consortium already has the support of Ford, BMW, Renault and General Motors.
The company Indra now offers blockchain payment systems for highway tolls. Automated toll booths are already common in many countries, but scams are also frequent, both for drivers and highway administrators.
The solution was developed in the CRITICAL-CHAINS project, with funding from the European Union, and is being launched first hand in Mexico.
Possible future applications
In addition to the aforementioned possibilities of use, we also have several others that can be developed in the coming years. Some examples are:
Creating an official vehicle history record, an additional document in the form of a type of passport, can protect used car buyers. Repairs, contracts and histories with insurers, previous owners, all of this would be available for consultation in the event of a sale. The ownership and documentation of the car itself can be registered through blockchain.
The use of blockchain could change the way we use apps like Uber, making it more efficient and sustainable and improving car sharing. One of the great advantages will be the elimination of intermediaries, establishing direct operations between drivers and passengers.
automatic traffic networks
Autonomous, driverless vehicles will be a reality at some point. The operation of these transport networks will make use of data networks of location and operating conditions (weather, abnormalities, traffic phenomena, etc.).
All this will be possible through a blockchain network, where the nodes (nodes) will put individual information and the system will have free access to them, in a reliable and dynamic way.
About the author
Fares Alkudmani holds a degree in Business Administration from Tishreen University, in Syria, with an MBA from Edinburgh Business School, Scotland. Brazilian naturalized. Acts as Business Development Manager Brazil at Kucoin.