America’s largest automobile manufacturer, General Motors, wants to keep tabs on its autonomous cars through the use of specialized blockchain technology. According to Cointelegraph, the 110-year-old motor company filed an application with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office last Spring, recently published November 29th of this year. The article reports that the patent “outlines a system for using blockchain to provide “secure” and “robust” data distribution and interoperable exchange between multiple automated vehicles and other entities, such as municipalities, regional authorities, and public facilities.”
Although autonomous or ‘self-driving’ vehicles were the primary inspiration for use of this tech, GM’s patent application “emphasizes that a blockchain system is “desirable for semi-autonomous and non-autonomous vehicles as well.”
“The patent proposes that a blockchain system can be used for information sharing in regard to a range of practical needs, resources, and legal records. These include route navigation, availability of charging and refueling services, determining the validity of permits and licenses for vehicles operating as “hacks, taxis, or other for-hire services,” as well as “maintaining balances for [...] charges related to tolls, parking, car washes, and access to other fee based services.”
Unsurprisingly, the recording and exchange of this sort of information raises safety, security, privacy, and legality issues and for its part, General Motors’ patent application offers the company’s advice regarding these concerns. Cointelegraph quotes the application as [advising] that it would be best “to implement a blockchain exchange to push only approved, vetted, and secure, location based information to the occupants of an autonomous vehicle.”
This patent could be the beginning of a new relationship with the National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration with the use of blockchain opening the door to “interaction with highway and traffic management systems and users of autonomous cars, in the form of “an online or cloud blockchain ledger for entering and distributing [different types of ] information.”
This patent could be the beginning of a new relationship with the National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration with the use of blockchain opening the door to “interaction with highway and traffic management systems and users of autonomous cars, in the form of “an online or cloud blockchain ledger for entering and distributing [different types of ] information.” Don’t look now, but the Cointelegraph article tells us the blockchain system, in theory, could be used in part as a ledger that records “vehicle actions, driver behavior and driver abilities to follow traffic rules.”
And in case this is making you rethink the brand, GM’s only the latest to join MOBI (Mobility Open Blockchain Initiative)--automakers BMW, Ford and Renault are also card-carrying members, along with over thirty other companies including Bosch and IBM. These industry giants may have us all singing domo arigato, Mr. Roboto sooner than later.