Blockchain start-up joins coalition of automakers to develop autonomous EVs

A global consortium of automakers, including BMW, Ford and Renault, have announced that they will work with blockchain start-up The DAV Foundation in a bid to make networks of fully autonomous electric vehicles (EVs) commonplace by 2021.

The partnership will see The DAV Foundation, which is aiming to create a decentralised network of autonomous vehicles using blockchain technology, work with consortium the Mobility Open Blockchain Initiative (MOBI), which is working to explore the benefits of utilising new digital technologies in the mobility sector.

MOBI, which works with automakers that account for more than 70% of the global vehicle market, public transportation providers, energy companies, insurance firms and regulatory bodies across the world, believes the new partnership will help to “decentralise every element” of transportation by road by securing smart contracts for transactions using a blockchain platform.

Acting as a digital ledger, the platform creates a verifiable audit trail that can be used for transactions, notably for car and ride sharing, charging station availability, autonomous payments, pay-as-you-use insurance and vehicle taxes. All these aspects will be governed by smart contracts that are secured through the blockchain platform.

The DAV Foundation’s co-founder, Tal Ater, said the partnership will help the start-up gain access to the expertise it needs to create a global network of decentralised EVs, while providing MOBI with the technology it needs to achieve its own goals.

“MOBI and the companies that are part of the consortium share the same goals as us,” Ater said. “It’s about companies working together over trustless platforms, because decentralisation is the key to the future of transportation, globally.”

Echoing Ater’s sentiments, MOBI’s chief executive Chris Ballinger said the partnership would help spur the “rapid and scalable adoption of technologies” by companies in the autonomous and mobility spheres.

Driving ahead

Despite scepticism remaining around autonomous vehicles, nations and automakers alike have made moves to capture the benefits of this rapidly growing market in recent times.

EV experts such as Nissan and Tesla have both launched their own self-driving features, while Volvo’s self-driving vehicle trials in London look set to expand this year. Similarly, General Motors is working towards an “all-electric future” and is looking to roll out a fully self-driving, ridesharing service by 2021.

In the policy sphere, the UK Government last year launched the first phase of a £100m investment in the development of driverless vehicles with a new competition supporting the creation of testing infrastructure. The programme will be matched by a further £100m investment from industry over four years.

This regulatory framework has been generally supported by the public, with a quarter of UK citizens claiming they would be willing to sell their vehicle in favour of signing up for a driverless car subscription.

Sarah George

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