Hewlett Packard Enterprise and automotive manufacturing giant Continental will this year launch a blockchain-based platform for car manufacturers to share and sell vehicle data.
As well as helping car-makers “monetise their data and differentiate their brands” the secure data sharing capability is expected to lead to driver services such as real-time traffic warnings and locating available parking.
“Several existing digital ecosystems enable data sharing based on a middleman model, where platform owners centrally coordinate the data flows and monetisation. Applying a complimentary approach, HPE and Continental’s platform leverages a decentralised architecture based on blockchain technologies,” the companies said in an announcement today at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
“Participants, such as car manufacturers, continue storing the data in their own data centres and only share specific data sets upon purchase directly with the buyer. This approach gives data sovereignty to all participants in the ecosystem, while at the same time providing a highly efficient and secure procedure for monetising vehicle data,” they added.
The companies urged that the trading of vehicle data would only be done after obtaining driver consent. The platform will come with an integrated “consent management system and provide an easy to use opt-in and opt-out system for drivers” and be in compliance with GDPR and other data protection regulation regimes.
HPE’s services business Pointnext and tyre brand Continental’s interior division will also provide additional services to facilitate data trading and the integration of vehicle data into car manufacturers’ back-end systems and services.
The companies’ statement said the platform will enable “multiple ecosystems – both centralised and decentralised – to interconnect”.
“Sharing vehicle data across vendors can solve some of the toughest traffic problems and improve driver experience by leveraging the power of swarm intelligence,” said Phil Davis, president hybrid IT, HPE.
“Together with Continental, we provide the key to unlock the value of this data treasure, not by taking control of the data ourselves, but by giving control to the drivers and car manufacturers,” Davis added.
Blockchain hits the road
The potential of blockchain-related systems for vehicle data has long been pondered, but is now beginning to be realised.
Toyota has for a couple of years been working on a blockchain style technology to allow for information to be transmitted securely between cars and road networks. General Motors late last year filed a patent for a blockchain solution to manage data from autonomous vehicles. The patent describes a system “using blockchains for distributing event information related to vehicle operation between a plurality of entities”.
Last year, BMW, General Motors, Ford and Renault were announced as founding members of MOBI (Mobility Open Blockchain Initiative), a group with the stated goal of “using blockchain and related technology to make mobility safer, greener, and more accessible”.
Emerging blockchain technology has also been proposed as a technique to assign liability when driverless vehicles crash.
While autonomous vehicles are packed with sensors and record lots of data, enough to confidently attribute liability in the case of a tragedy – there are vested interests at play around the availability, sharing and accuracy of that data.
“Emerging blockchain technology has the potential to underpin a new liability framework for autonomous vehicles as it provides trustless consensus,” CSIRO research leader Raja Jurdak et al wrote in their 2018 paper A Blockchain Based Liability Attribution Framework for Autonomous Vehicles.
The proposed framework – based on a permissioned blockchain – brings together the various parties involved in the “autonomous automotive ecosystem” such as the auto manufacturer, software provider, service technician and the vehicle owner. In the event of an accident, there would be a blockchain holding the “comprehensive evidence” required to attribute liability.
HPE and Continental claim to have received “overwhelmingly positive feedback” on their new platform from car manufacturers.
“We are sure that our platform cuts the Gordian knot of data sharing and data privacy,” said Helmut Matschi, from Continental’s Interior division.
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