Porsche brings blockchain to cars
In collaboration with the Berlin-based startup XAIN, Porsche is testing blockchain applications directly in vehicles. The applications tested include locking and unlocking the vehicle via an app, temporary access authorizations, and new business models based on encrypted data logging. The companies claim that this could be developed further to improve autonomous driving functions.
Blockchain is a decentralized protocol for data transactions between business partners. It also forms the basis of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum. Every change is recorded in chronologically arranged data blocks, making it transparent and tamper-proof. This could hold enormous potential, said Oliver Döring, Financial Strategist at Porsche, “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.”
The services developed on the foundation of blockchain are reportedly fast and secure. The car becomes part of the blockchain, making a direct offline connection possible—that is, without diversion through a server. Taking 1.6 seconds, the process of opening and closing the car via an app is as much as six times faster than before. In addition, efficient cryptographic encryption takes place. This process is designed to ensure that all activities are documented in the blockchain in a way that prevents them from being modified, and can be viewed using an app. For example, access authorizations can be distributed digitally and securely and can be monitored by the vehicle owner at any time. Access also works remotely.
In addition, the technology makes it possible to assign temporary access authorizations for the vehicle, in a secure and efficient manner. A protected connection to vehicle data and functionalities can be established using blockchain. At the same time, it protects communication between participants. Third-party providers can be integrated without the need for additional hardware, simply by using “smart contracts.” Smart contracts are automated contracts that trigger transactions upon the occurrence of previously defined conditions. This means that compliance with the contract is ensured through technology. "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, Vice President of Electric/Electronic Systems at Porsche.
Porsche is also working on new business models based on blockchain. Through auditable data logging, the data to be processed 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. This basis aims to improve the future of autonomous driving with the possibilities of improved functions such as local data being used to obtain regional learning effects, which can be shared securely with other vehicles. The customer can make use of swarm data, which is protected simultaneously.