How Blockchain Could Make Driverless Vehicles a Reality

Blockchain technology is not just for cryptocurrency--governments can use it for many services--and it will play a role in securing the Internet of Things.


By Stephen Armstrong

Blockchain could be used to implement driverless transportation--cars, shuttles, buses and more--pivotal pieces of a smart future powered by the Internet of Things. Blockchain technology has the inherent potential to make autonomous transportation systems secure from cyber attacks.

It's all in how it works. Blockchain is the decentralized electronic ledger technology behind cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. The ledger of encrypted transactions is open, so it is distributed all over the world.

A cyber attack would require tampering of all ledger instances simultaneously, according to Sir Mark Walport, the United Kingdom's chief scientific adviser, who wrote a Distributed Ledger Technology report featuring global case studies on using blockchain for trust and interoperability.

Government Uses of Blockchain

While blockchain may have been born into currency, it can be used for many types of transactions from real estate to government records. It can be used to collect taxes, record land and property registries and more, wrote Walport in his report.

It's beauty is in having copies of the ledger on computers all over the world--this is what actually allows for cryptocurrency assets to be transferred and recorded without external verification.

In fact, while Bitcoin itself may seem like a cash-grab game of sorts, the largest banks are actually collaborating to explore blockchain and how it can improve auditing of transactions to improve efficiency and reduce costs.

LHV Pank, the largest independent bank in Estonia, has already issued cryptocurrency securities, according to Walport's report.

Blockchain for the Internet of Things

If each driverless vehicle is an autonomous device--and a part of a whole system--centralized failure is by nature eliminated. Blockchain can then increase the security of implementing individual autonomous, enabled devices.

Autonomous vehicles are becoming a reality - cars are increasingly part of the Internet of Things...You don't want your connected vehicle to be tampered with. So, blockchain's distributed ledger has the potential to monitor car operating systems, sensors, doors. You can baseline the known state of the device's configuration and then check for tampering," said Walport.

While blockchain may not currently be feasible for ride-hailing companies that must screen drivers and perform other tasks guided by human judgement, it's already being tested for other transportation uses.

Plex.AI, a 2015 Canadian car-insurance tech startup located at an Ontario incubator, has developed an automotive telematics platform. The broker can reportedly give its insurance carriers real-time, remote diagnostics on cars. The technology uses Ethereum blockchain, machine learning and artificial intelligence to produce information about its customers that get quotes and sign up through its Rover app.

It's not just a new way of thinking about money - it's a new way of thinking about trust," said Amos Meiri, co-founder of Israel-based Colu, a blockchain technology company.

Read the original story on Wired's website.

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