Luxury car manufacturer Porsche, in collaboration with Berlin-based start-up XAIN, is testing the application of blockchain technology directly in vehicles, making it the first automobile manufacturer to do so.
According to a press release the company issued last week, 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, for example.
Porsche’s blockchain technology, which runs on the Ethereum blockchain, makes a direct offline connection possible without the use of a server, the company explained. The process of opening and closing the car via an app is up to six times faster than before, taking just 1.6 seconds. In addition, cryptographic encryption ensures that all activities are chronologically recorded in the blockchain in a safe, tamper-proof way.
In the words of Oliver Döring, Porsche’s financial strategist, “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.”
Further, the technology makes it possible to assign temporary access authorizations for the vehicle, as connection to vehicle data and functionalities can be established using blockchain. At the same time, it 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 charging station to the payment process,” said Uwe Michael, Porsche’s Vice President of Electronic Systems.
Porsche is also working on new business models based on blockchain: Through auditable data logging, processed data 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 as a basis, the future of autonomous driving will see improved functions on offer. For example, local data can be used to obtain regional learning effects, which can be shared securely with other vehicles. The customer can also make use of swarm data, which is protected at the same time.
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. Together with researchers from the University of Oxford and Imperial College London, the company has developed a blockchain system which significantly reduces the energy consumption of mining.