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Toyota mulls ‘blockchain technology’ for developing new mobility ecosystem

Collaborating with MIT Media Lab and other industry partners

Toyota Research Institute (TRI) is exploring ‘blockchain and distributed ledger technology’ (BC/DL) for use in the development of a new mobility ecosystem that could accelerate development of autonomous driving technology, according to a company press release on 22 May. TRI is also collaborating with MIT Media Lab and other industry partners for the project.
 
“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,” said Chris Ballinger, director of mobility services and chief financial officer at TRI.
 
Significance: According to TRI, 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. This, TRI said, creates transparency and reduce risk of fraud and reduction or elimination of transaction costs.
 
Along with sharing data on autonomous driving, the technology can also contribute to ride sharing economy by allowing “vehicle owners to monetize their asset by selling rides, cargo space or even the use of the vehicle itself”. The blockchain can store data about the vehicle’s usage and information about vehicle owners, drivers and passengers. It can also help reduce insurance rates for owners by allowing the vehicle’s sensors to collect driving data and store it in a blockchain.
 
Other partners in the project include Berlin-based BigchainDB, which is building the data exchange for sharing driving and autonomous vehicle testing data; US-based Oaken Innovations, which is developing an application for P2P car sharing, vehicle access and payments with a newly created mobility token; Commuterz, a startup from Israel, working on a P2P carpooling solution; US-based Gem working with Toyota’s joint venture telematics car insurance company; and Aioi Nissay Dowa Insurance Services.

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