The most notable and anticipated advancement in automobile tech is, of course, self-driving cars. As driving goes out of style and our roads fill with more autonomous autos, our vehicles and our lives will be subjected to more data collection. The use of blockchain can ensure that drivers own their data, buyers can trust a vehicle's data, and manufacturers can quickly recall and replace faulty equipment.
A panel at Consensus 2018 featured leaders from the blockchain automotive world, and began with a question about the kinds of data that would need to be collected. Many players exist in the automotive environment: manufacturers, retailers, individual sellers, used-car buyers, lessors, and lessees, to name a few. Data collected by a car about its function and environment can be useful to many.
Odometer fraud is rampant in the used-car sales industry, for example. A previous owner could turn it back a few miles and the used-car dealer could set it back a few more. Were the mileage to be stored on an immutable ledger, the new buyer could be confident in the history of the car and its current quality.
Dimitri De Jonghe, blockchain application director at BigchainDB, mentioned how faulty parts can report their imperfections to the manufacturer (IoT), and an EDCC, or smart contract, can immediately order their recall. This prompt response could likely save countless lives.
However, De Jonghe emphasized that "no personal data should be shared on the blockchain … whatever data is stored should be owned by the car owner." He went on to say that the owner should be able to set conditions for which parties should be granted access to their data; if they approve the manufacturer, the manufacturer may need to share access with their suppliers, and so on.
Other cars in the area could likewise have access to some of the data but, again, it should be selective. Should manufacturers receive access to the data shared between their automobiles and others? It would also be best if those sharing rights were determined by the owners.
While several solutions have emerged to collect and store car data on the cloud, many in the industry are advocating for the use of blockchain instead. It's important that necessary parties have access to critical information about a vehicle, but privacy advocates believe that the decision to share your data should ultimately be up to you.