Toyota looks to blockchain for secure communications

Toyota has announced it is working on a blockchain style technology to allow for information to be transmitted securely between cars and road networks.
News Image
Toyota's futuristic Concept-i vehicle. Photo: Toyota

Toyota has announced it is working on a blockchain style technology to allow for information to be transmitted securely between cars and road networks.

Blockchain technology sends information over a network of independent computers, known as a distributed ledger, intended to ensure that the transaction is secure and ownership rights over the data/property are protected.

The American-based Toyota Research Institute (TRI) believes blockchain may create transparency and trust among users, reduce risk of fraud and reduction or elimination of transaction costs, such as fees or surcharges applied by third party institutions.   

“Hundreds of billions of miles of human driving data may be needed to develop safe and reliable autonomous vehicles,” said TRI director of mobility services Chris Ballinger.

“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.”

TRI is creating a user consortium and hopes to stimulate more rapid adoption of blockchain by other companies developing autonomous vehicles and providing mobility services. It is inviting current and future partners to collaborate on further development of blockchain and distributed ledger technology (BC/DL) applications in vehicle data and services.

It is working with several industry partners including to develop applications and proofs of concept for three areas of the new mobility ecosystem: driving/testing data sharing, car/ride share transactions and usage-based insurance.

TRI’s partners include the MIT Media Lab, Berlin-based BigchainDB, Oaken Innovations, based in Dallas and Toronto, Israeli-startup Commuterz, Gem from Los Angeles, and Aioi Nissay Dowa Insurance Services. Each partner has expertise in their specific market or area of research.

“I'm excited Toyota is spearheading this initiative that uses blockchain technology to create an open platform where users can control their driving data,” said Neha Narula, Director of the Digital Currency Initiative at the MIT Media Lab.

“Our hope is that other industry stakeholders will join this effort to bring safe and reliable autonomous vehicles one step closer to reality.”

[Toyota's futuristic Concept-i vehicle. Photo: Toyota]