Electric drive, human driving to self-driving, going from ownership to mobility as a service are key classes of disruption believed to occur in the automotive sector within the next few years. IOTA’s Tangle, on the other hand, could be the catalyst that may help those changes take shape and be eventually integrated.

Speaking of a particular use case for the Tangle, Volkswagen presented a Proof of Concept during the Cebit summit on June 11, showing how over-the-air updates could securely be documented.

The Product Aim

The document shared on Twitter by Johann Jungwirth, Chief Digital Officer of Volkswagen Group, opens up by mentioning the growing number of connected vehicles. In fact, the latter is believed to reach 250 million by 2020. Should this happen, it allegedly will urge the need for frequent software updates, consistent with the increase in the level of automation. Volkswagen recalls IOTA’s aim to be the protocol of choice among various automotive industry actors by leveraging inherent capabilities that have the potential to disrupt the industry.

The document refers to the difficulty of enforcing security on data kept in centralized storage as a major challenge that has yet to be overcome. In light of this, the partnership with IOTA reportedly aims to use the Tangle as a safe storage medium for over-the-air update documentation while granting immutability and ensuring data integrity.

It also envisions to integrate the Tangle technology to Volkswagen legacy system to prove interoperability and production readiness.

Various core benefits for Volkswagen are reported by the release, from establishing digital trust with their customers, authorities and third parties to the ability to record incremental volumes of updates and software versions. The ability to provide evidence to external parties, grant transparent access to audit trails and keep an immutable transaction record are all cited as well.

IOTA contract handshake. Source: shutterstock.com
IOTA contract handshake. Source: shutterstock.com

In fact, the IOTA and Volkswagen partnership dates back to early 2018. Speaking of it during the Bosch Connected World Conference on February 2018, Jungwirth praised IOTA for its potential use cases in the automotive sector. He enumerated advantages such as feeless transactions, short verification time, possibility of conducting offline transactions and being Quantum secure.

According to Jungwirth, IOTA’s Tangle securely permits over-the-air software updates, granting irrevocable proof of data integrity and software versions and transaction.

It also allows on-demand new features to be brought to a vehicle during its lifetime. Moreover, the Tangle can be the perfect layer to apply digital twin technology (combining AI, machine learning, and data analytics to create a digital replica for physical assets), thanks to decentralized and shared computing.

What Makes the Tangle Revolutionary as DLT?

Invented by IOTA, the Tangle is a revolutionary approach to distributed ledger technology, which features a complex data structure based on a directed acyclic graph.

In contrast with blockchain technology, the Tangle features no blocks, no chains, and does not have recourse to miners to confirm transactions.

In fact, the consensus within the Tangle is achieved in situ, given that users are made active participants in the process. Each user wishing to conduct an IOTA transaction has first to approve two past transactions, thus completely circumventing blockchain’s notorious scalability issues. In essence, network congestion is by design unreachable since the more network participants use the Tangle, the higher the transaction throughput achieved.

Moreover, this parallelized validation enabled by the Tangle does not put an upper limit on the number of transaction to be confirmed in a given time interval.

While miners in a classic blockchain PoW consensus mechanism compete to solve the cryptographic encryption, Tangle participants join their efforts to validate transactions which makes it fundamentally decentralized.

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