Toyota turns to blockchain technology to reshape the future of cars

In cooperation with MIT’s Media Lab, Toyota is exploring how Blockchain can be applied to the car industry. Toyota, through the various projects it is working on, aims to address the means through which software will help people become comfortable with autonomous technologies. That entails monitoring and distributing information about the safety of individual vehicles, the way owners use the cars, and reducing fraud.

Chris Ballinger, director of mobility services and chief financial officer at Toyota’s Research Institute explained that hundreds of billions of miles of human driving data may be needed to develop safe and reliable autonomous vehicles. He also stated :“ Blockchains and distributed ledgers may enable pooling data from vehicle owners, fleet managers, and manufacturers to shorten the time for reaching this goal, thereby bringing forward the safety, efficiency and convenience benefits of autonomous driving technology.”

At a first stage, research is tackling the sharing of data on every trip that an autonomous vehicle takes, the development of user friendly tools that facilitate ride-sharing and the creation of new insurance products that are usage-based for customers who may prefer that coverage.

Neha Narula, Director, Digital Currency Initiative at the MIT Media Labs stated: “I’m excited Toyota is spearheading this initiative that uses blockchain technology to create an open platform where users can control their driving data. Our hope is that other industry stakeholders will join this effort to bring safe and reliable autonomous vehicles one step closer to reality.”

Toyota  Research Institute is also partnering with some startups and smaller companies that are experts in the blockchain industry.

There are many examples of startups working on Blockchain for the car industry. The Berlin-based startup BigchainDB,  is building the data exchange for sharing driving and autonomous vehicle testing data, while Oaken Innovations and Commuterz are working towards the development of  blockchain apps for car sharing, vehicle access and payments, and carpooling. In addition, Gem, the Los Angeles-based blockchain application developer, is working on porting the applications it has been developing for the healthcare insurance industry to car insurance. More specifically, Toyota and Gem will be focusing on usage-based insurance products tied to the telematics coming off of a users’ vehicle