Big Names in Blockchain and the Car Industry Have Started Collaborating – Here’s What You Need to Know

A consortium of tech vendors and startups exploring blockchain technology for the automobile industry has just been announced with some important participants: four of the biggest car companies in the world. Ford, General Motors, BMW, and Renault announced on Tuesday their participation in what is now the largest automotive blockchain collaboration ever.

The Mobility Open Blockchain Initiative (MOBI) has some heavyweights from the blockchain space: Consensys, IOTA, and Hyperledger as well as other tech giants (IBM, Bosch, ZF and Accenture) and research institutes like Blockchain at Berkeley.

The MOBI consortium will explore the many ways blockchain can be used in the automotive industry, as well as discuss regulation-related issues that are likely to surface. In many ways, the MOBI development touches on some of the most hot-button issues in the wider tech world: the appropriate use of data, the rise of IoT, autonomous/smart cars, and of course blockchain solutions for guaranteeing data immutability.

Grand designs

The roadmap for integrating these possibilities is understandably still vague, but the CEO of MOBI Chris Ballinger is very bullish on the project’s odds of making an impact when he said:

“Blockchain and related trust enhancing technologies are poised to redefine the automotive industry and how consumers purchase, insure and use vehicles. By bringing together automakers, suppliers, startups, and government agencies, we can accelerate adoption for the benefit of businesses, consumers and communities.”

Cars are going places

It has long been discussed in tech circles just how far behind the rest of the economy cars are regarding user technology. This is evidenced by the Volkswagen emissions scandal in which drivers had woefully inadequate data on how their cars were performing. Much of the auto industry can be said to have focussed in recent decades on design and machine engineering to the neglect of tech and software. Smart homes and smarter phones are par for the course, but in-car tech is still somewhat underwhelming in comparison.

Blockchain and ledger technology could go some of the way to bringing it up to speed. Especially around issues of data privacy, car safety, and environmental emissions. The innovations could be earth-changing, but also as mundane as giving users easier access to their cars, as was reported to be a target for Porsche recently.

In this context, the involvement of a platform like Hyperledger (which makes blockchain integration easier for enterprises) and IOTA (the top dog of the blockchain world for IoT) is a promising sign for the new MOBI collaboration platform. It is exciting to anticipate what use cases will be worked towards in the near future (and whether or not self-driving cars will be involved!)

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