I’m in Stuttgart, Germany, as close to hallowed ground as you can get for the automotive world. The luxury car brands of Mercedes-Benz and Porsche call Stuttgart their home. Bosch, one of the world’s leading supplier to automakers, is also based here.
Before setting up ascribe — a service for claiming copyright on the blockchain, and BigchainDB, a scalable blockchain database, I spent 12 years in the automotive industry. Working for companies like Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen and Mitsubishi, there were many times where blockchain could have helped.
The disruptive blockchain wave that hit financial services, trade, energy, government and media, has finally come to the automotive sector. Since early 2017, there has been a marked increase in activity from automakers around the globe to explore how blockchain technologies can be used. Automotive companies are scrambling to kick-off projects that demonstrate to their management that they have a handle on the technology.
How can the automotive industry use blockchains?
There are 5 obvious ways that blockchains can be useful within the automotive industry:
1. Track and verify automotive parts
2. Track and verify vehicle provenance
3. Streamline the supply chain and business processes
4. Accelerate autonomous vehicle development
5. Build a mobility platform for electric vehicles
Before deep-diving into some of the ways that blockchains could be useful for the automotive sector, it’s useful to reiterate the value of blockchains.
Bitcoin demonstrated that a decentralized ledger that stored cryptocurrency could be useful to dis-intermediate payments and remittances. Ethereum demonstrated that an unstoppable computer could be useful to model business logic.
Blockchains for Value and Business Logic — What About for Data?
From our experience in ascribe from 2014, it’s been our conviction that if blockchains are going to be implemented into real-world production systems and processes, there needs to be a decentralized database to capture data. Data coming from supply chains, metadata for large datasets, claims of intellectual property, registry data for identity and government services — all types of data need to be stored in a persistent, immutable datastore. That’s why we built BigchainDB — to wrangle the massive amounts of valuable data into a decentralized blockchain database.
As I said, there are 5 obvious use cases where auto companies can use blockchain …