Blockchain has the ability to guide autonomous cars from level 2 through to 5 (proposed stages of autonomy), while simultaneously providing solutions to future issues. Blockchain can help improve on existing systems, like route optimization as well as creating a foundation for trading services around these systems. A decentralized solution achieves this, guaranteeing higher user safety and data security, against growing hacking threats.
Route optimization and other blockchain benefits
GPS tools currently are able to find the quickest route based on historical data and minimal live data from accidents or congestion. With the use of blockchain’s timestamp function, real-time data could dynamically update routes to prevent congestion or provide useful data to consumers via an application. This could lead to better response times of emergency services and increased reliability of public transport.
With cars being fully autonomous at level 5, combined with a cryptocurrency trading platform, this paves the way for priority optimization of the roads. Drivers could be subsidized by other drivers for taking longer to get to their destinations. The application for your taxi or car could have a parameter on time for varying degrees of urgency. For slower drivers clearing the road, they would be paid in crypto, reducing their journey cost.
Autonomous car owners could earn crypto while their cars are not in use. Many of us commute to work in our car, which otherwise just sits in the car park. Leasing a car would be initiated via a smart contract. Toll payments, parking reservations and road priority could all be settled via a smart contract and crypto payment during your journey. GPS optimization would then ensure that the vehicle would be available to collect the owner or notify them of any delays.
Problems surrounding current systems
With current systems working on a centralized model, there will be limitations on how the solution can scale as the number of vehicles grows. Systems need to be able to support the high levels of network traffic in order to prevent unresponsive servers. Centralized technology can suffer from suspension of service as a result of denial-of-service (DOS) attacks.
Large amounts of personal data on individuals will be stored and analyzed for these systems to operate effectively. Centralized data servers have the potential to be compromised, with data being tampered with or sold to third parties. Hackers infiltrating a server would be able to control cars and traffic systems. With road safety being dependant on data and system security, a more robust infrastructure needs to be in place.
Blockchain’s security bonus
The progression to autonomous cars introduces the issues of data security, data infrastructure and system manipulation.
Blockchain runs on a decentralized architecture with large amounts of nodes to participate in the database. This almost eliminates failure, as every node would have to cease operating to bring the network down. Encryptions in blockchain allow data to be accessible by the owners or people with granted permissions, providing enhanced security.
A common hacking method is by remotely installing software and distributing data payloads. In the autonomous car industry, this could lead to hijacking control of core functionalities of a car such as braking, steering, acceleration and any other systems. The use of cryptography and private keys could prevent this. Software updates could be signed by exclusive private keys which are only available to the owner and manufacturer.
Although blockchain may not have all the solutions for the automotive industry, it has the potential to assist progression to level 5 and layout foundations for a solid and secure data infrastructure. From this, a variety of applications and services could be developed which would change how we view and travel in the future.