Porsche is collaborating with technology startup XAIN to test how blockchain technology can benefit vehicles.
Possible applications of the technology include locking and unlocking the car via an app, temporary access authorizations and the improvement of autonomous driving. Porsche claims to be the first car manufacturer to implement and successfully test blockchain in cars.
Blockchain is a protocol for data transactions, in particular between business partners, and underpins cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. It is designed to be extremely secure, as every change is recorded in chronologically arranged data blocks, which are stored by all client devices and constantly cross-referenced. It is therefore virtually impossible to tamper with data, as all copies of the blockchain have to match.
According to Oliver Döring, financial strategist at Porsche, the technology holds enormous potential: “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 designed to be 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 convenient and safe. In addition, cryptographic encryption takes place, which ensures 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.
Thanks to blockchain, these access authorizations are also flexible, while remaining secure and fast. A protected connection to vehicle data and functionalities can be established using blockchain. At the same time, it protects all communication between participants. Third-party providers can be integrated without the need for additional hardware by using so-called ‘smart contracts’. These are automated contracts that trigger transactions upon the occurrence of previously defined conditions. For example, one-time access to a car can easily be given to a courier or when lending out the car, while also protecting this transaction from hackers.
The secure nature of blockchain can also benefit autonomous driving, in particular V2X communication: local data can be 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 at the same time.