Throughout the expansion of blockchain into enterprise usage, there has been a steady ‘arms’ race developing between vehicle manufacturers looking to integrate the technology for better efficiencies. Automobile production has long been at the forefront of technological advances, and thus, it makes sense that brands like Mercedes, BMW, Daimler, GM, and a host of others would be driving adoption.
The ability of the blockchain to be applied in so many different sectors and the reliance on automobile production on an array of niches means that this match has a lot of potentials that are just starting to be tapped.
The likes of BMW and Ford are backing the blockchain to ensure responsible sourcing of cobalt for their manufacturing; Daimler is piloting machine-to-machine payments using a blockchain platform without any human interaction; GM has a patent out for a blockchain-powered solution to manage data from autonomous vehicles; the list goes on, and is very broad.
The drive from car manufacturers into the blockchain space may not grab the same headlines as when Google, Facebook, IBM, and other tech giants delve into the new space, but this ongoing push to integrate the technology is essential and vital for growth.
The car manufacturing environment has its own consortium to explore the usage of the technology, the Mobility Open Blockchain Initiative (MOBI), launched in May 2018. This micro-ecosystem of blockchain usage is one certainly worth taking seriously, and examining, as the automobile environment is cut-throat and competitive, and blockchain can give companies an edge never-before-seen.
Recent use cases
Earlier this month, news emerged of two different sectors – banking and automobile manufacturing – using blockchain in order to pilot payments. Frankfurt bank and financial services firm Commerzbank tested blockchain-based machine to machine payments with trucks produced by the firm behind the Mercedes-Benz auto brand, Daimler.
The idea behind this pilot was to use blockchain’s ability to remove the need for intermediaries and enable machine-to-machine payments for the trucks. This move would allow for much greater autonomy in the space, in regards to payments, and could also be seen as a step towards autonomous vehicles – another emerging technology on the horizon.
Another key use case that has been around for a while now, and is only gaining traction, is the use of blockchain for the tracking and recording of sustainably sourced cobalt. Cobalt is a key ingredient for electric car batteries but is also a resource that can be unethically sourced.
Back in March of 2018, BMW teamed up with a London-based start-up to ensure the cobalt they were sourcing was ethically sourced. Again, the technology is being used for the manufacturing of vehicles, but its use case relates to the supply chain, which is a vital area ripe for blockchain adoption.
The fact that a company on the scale is using blockchain to better its ethical supply chain means that the growth in this area, for the technology, is getting an enterprise-level boost. Not to mention, the technology is being used for good in terms of the mining sources, but also for the betterment of electric vehicles in the future.
Speaking of the future, the blockchain has far-reaching potential that can sound quite like science fiction, and even the vehicle manufacturers are keeping an eye on that.
GM has also been pushing the use of blockchain technology with a patent for a blockchain-powered solution to manage data from autonomous vehicles.
The patent sets out in detail how the platform would work, allowing the distribution and communication of data between autonomous vehicles and services and facilities on roadways or in cities.
GM’s patent suggests that a blockchain system would be best suited for this type of information sharing. The range of data shared would be anything from navigation, charging and refuelling services, the validity of licenses as well as recording balances for payable services like tolls and parking.
Another instance of futuristic blockchain potential involves Honda and GM; these two are looking at the possibility of interoperability between electric vehicles and smart power grids where a blockchain solution could help stabilize the supply of energy in smart grids
Why vehicle blockchain adoption is important
What is clear from looking at just a smattering of blockchain experiments and use cases in the production and usage of vehicles is that there is a huge range of areas where the technology can be integrated. This shows that this industry is ripe for disruption across a number of areas.
More so, there is a big drive for the advancement and disruption in the space as the vehicle business is one of the biggest, and most competitive around. Vehicle manufacturers are in a constant battle to innovate and accelerate into futuristic offerings; self-driving cars, autonomous vehicles, and other futures offerings are not far away.
The thing is, blockchain offers a way to get closer to these goals, and it is not through total overhauls and moves to blockchain systems, rather smart uses of technology in small niches to improve efficiencies.
This has become how major enterprises have also benefited from blockchain technology in its current state, and it is the way that these vehicle manufacturers are also going about things. If there can be a success for the car brands with blockchain, they can act as pioneers for extended and prolonged adoption in other industries.