Porsche Will be the First Automaker to Utilize Blockchain Technology in Cars
【Summary】Luxury German automaker Porsche has come up with a security solution for the connected cars of the future. In collaboration with Berlin-based start-up XAIN, the company is testing the application of blockchain directly in its vehicles, making it the first automobile manufacturer to utilize blockchain technology.
Luxury German automaker Porsche has come up with a security solution for the connected cars of the future. In collaboration with Berlin-based start-up XAIN, the company is testing the application of blockchain directly in its vehicles, making it the first automobile manufacturer to utilize blockchain technology.
Blockchain is a decentralized protocol for data transactions between parties. It also forms the basis of the well-known cryptocurrencies Bitcoin and Ethereum. Using blockchain, every change is recorded in chronologically arranged data blocks, making it transparent and tamper-proof. This could hold enormous potential for the automotive industry.
According to a press release from Porsche, the applications tested include locking and unlocking the vehicle via an app, temporary access authorizations, and encrypted data logging. Porsche hopes these applications can be developed further—to improve autonomous driving functions.
XAIN won the first "Porsche Innovation Contest" on blockchain in the summer of 2017, beating over 100 other applicants in the process. Following the contest, interdisciplinary teams from across Porsche worked in collaboration with XAIN over the course of three months to develop and test applications.
XAIN offers various blockchain and artificial intelligence solutions, with a particular focus on intelligent industrial applications. The company has also developed a blockchain system which significantly reduces the energy consumption of bitcoin mining.
How it Works
Porsche's blockchain technology, which runs on the Ethereum blockchain, makes a direct offline connection to the vehicle possible without the use of a server, the company explained. For example, the process of opening and closing the car via a smartphone app is up to six times faster than before, taking just 1.6 seconds. Additionally, cryptographic encryption ensures that all vehicle communications activities are chronologically recorded in the blockchain in a safe, tamper-proof way.
Oliver Döring, Porsche's financial strategist said, "We can use blockchain to transfer data more quickly and securely, giving our customers more peace of mind in the future, whether they are charging, parking or need to give a third party, such as a parcel delivery agent, temporary access to the vehicle. We translate the innovative technology into direct benefits for the customer."
The blockchain technology makes it possible to assign temporary access authorizations for the vehicle, as connection to vehicle data and functionality can be established using blockchain. At the same time, it securely protects all communication between participants, and third-party providers can be integrated using smart contracts — without the need for additional hardware.
"With this modern technology, we are also fostering our electromobility offensive: ranging from a faster, easier and safer authentication at the EV charging station to the payment process," said Uwe Michael, Porsche's Vice President of Electronic Systems.
New Business Model Based on Blockchain
Porsche is also working on new business models based on blockchain. Through auditable data logging, the data to be processed is encrypted locally in a distributed blockchain. The user is in control of the data, deciding how to use it depending on the situation.
All activities are documented in the blockchain, making deletions transparent. With this basis, the future of autonomous driving will see improved functionality. Local data can be used to obtain regional collective learning for connected vehicles, which can then be shared securely with other vehicles. The connected vehicles can each make use of swarm data, which is protected at the same time.
Porsche, along with other automakers, could benefit greatly from blockchain technology. Blockchain may one day become a secure solution, as cars become smart and connect to infrastructure and other vehicles, as well as for the vehicle communications required for autonomous driving.
Originally hailing from New Jersey, Eric is a automotive & technology reporter covering the high-tech industry here in Silicon Valley. He has over 15 years of automotive experience and a bachelors degree in computer science. These skills, combined with technical writing and news reporting, allows him to fully understand and identify new and innovative technologies in the auto industry and beyond. He has worked at Uber on self-driving cars and as a technical writer, helping people to understand and work with technology.
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