The Toyota Motor Corporation has in the past stated that it wants to see a driverless car in the streets by 2020, and even invested $1 billion in building a new research institute that would bring artificial intelligence and robotics to its cars. The institute, dubbed Toyota Research Institute (TRI), has ecently announced it is going to take steps towards the future of driverless cars with the use of blockchain technology, according to Reuters.
To do so, Toyota has partnered up with the MIT Media Lab and other technology companies that specialize in various aspects of blockchain technology, to explore how it can then be applied to improve autonomous cars. The project, according to Toyota, would allow businesses and consumers to safely share data on every trip autonomous vehicles take.
Moreover, blockchain technology can be used to develop tools that will make ride-sharing easier, and to create new insurance products with lower rates based on usage, as a vehicle’s sensors could collect driving data and store it in the blockchain, allowing insurance companies to lower costs to those with safe driving habits.
Chris Ballinger, director of mobility services and Chief Financial Officer (CFO) at Toyota Research Institute stated:
Hundreds of billions of miles of human driving data may be needed to develop safe and reliable autonomous vehicles. “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
As previously covered by CCN, Chris Ballinger, CEO at Toyota Financial Services, the finance-based subsidiary of the Toyota Motor Company, previously stated that the company believes blockchain technology will ultimately allow it to lower costs and increase efficiency.
Toyota’s Partners and Blockchain Technology
According to Reuters there are other technology companies involved in the project. BigchainDB, a Berlin-based startup, is helping Toyota develop a scalable database that’ll allow the company to store driving data that can in the future be used to improve efficiency.
Commuterz, from Tel Aviv, and Dallas-based Oaken Innovations, are both working on the development of blockchain apps that will facilitate carpooling and car sharing. Blockchain technology can empower owners by allowing them to safely monetize their vehicles, as they’ll be able to sell car rides, cargo space, and even offer delivery services – all without a third-party intermediary.
Driverless cars can, as such, not only save lives by avoiding predictably human mistakes, but also improve efficiency and reduce pollution by eradicating traffic jams through direct communication with one another, while contributing to a greater increase in the sharing economy.
The Institute’s CEO, Gill Pratt, has in the past stated that working on autonomous cars wasn’t as much of a sprint, but more of a marathon. That being said, there are 18 other companies working towards the future of autonomous cars and we can be sure that Toyota, using blockchain technology, will bring a lot to the table.
As Gill Pratt put it
The problem of adding safety and accessibility to cars is extremely difficult. And the truth is, we are only at the beginning of this race.
Image of autonomous Toyota Concept i from Toyota.