Needed: Securely connected cars
The German automaker Volkswagen has partnered with the IOTA Foundation for an automotive IoT project. The Volkswagen/IOTA partnership is expected to launch their product in Q1 2019, finally bringing secure IoT to cars.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is an emerging technology with massive potential. Our world already has billions of devices, however, they don’t necessarily talk to each other. IoT is about connecting devices. Intelligent devices can then exchange information and this exchange can be autonomous. IoT will enable us to save the time spent on managing devices. The productivity gain could be enormous.
By 2020, there will 31 billion connected devices worldwide, besides the global IoT market will reach $457 billion. The use cases are wide-ranging, from smart homes to connected cars to “Big Data” in the oil fields. However, there are impediments to IoT adoption. The entire communication between devices happens over the Internet, therefore, it is vulnerable to hacking. Imagine oilfields shutting down due to hacked connected devices, or cyber attackers crippling energy grids. You also can’t afford your autonomous car falling into the hands of hackers.
Adoption of IoT requires secure communication between devices, besides transactions must be tamper-proof. Is this an ideal use case for blockchain? The reality is different. Blockchain networks like Bitcoin or Ethereum aren’t scalable enough. They can’t handle billions of devices. Meaningful IoT implementation also requires micropayment transactions. Bitcoin or Ethereum transaction fees could be higher than a micropayment amount, further complicating any possible integration.
IOTA cryptocurrency and its Tangle ledger attempt to bridge this gap. Tangle has no block. IOTA doesn’t require energy-hungry crypto mining. Tangle uses ‘Directed Acyclic Graph’ (DAG). Every transaction validates two other transactions. This makes the network fast while also eliminating the transaction fees.
Volkswagen IOTA partnership will use this technology for connected cars.
Volkswagen hasn’t shared much information about the project while the IOTA Foundation has provided some. They will launch “Digital CarPass”, i.e. the proposed product in Q1 2019. The two organizations have together released a ‘Proof of Concept’ (PoC) recently.
The Volkswagen/IOTA partnership will use Tangle to provide information about the car to drivers. This information will include mileage and usage, hence it will be a ‘Connect feature’. Drivers will know beforehand when their car will require servicing.
The project also caters to autonomous vehicles. Volkswagen will use the Tangle ledger to manage software upgrades. The ledger will facilitate secure communication, hence autonomous vehicles will receive upgrades automatically.
Volkswagen is one of the largest automakers. They own renowned car brands like Audi, Skoda, Porsche, and Lamborghini. Volkswagen IOTA partnership isn’t new. They have earlier collaborated to streamline interactions between stakeholders, however, the current project seems to have a much wider scope.
The IOTA Foundation has earlier worked with a number of automakers, hence, they have wide experience in this industry. They are part of the ‘Mobility Open Blockchain Initiative’ (MOBI). This industry consortium includes automakers like Groupe Renault, BMW, Ford, and General Motors. They develop ‘Distributed Ledger Technology’ (DLT) standards and open source tools. The IOTA Foundation has also actively participated in the European Blockchain Observatory and Forum.