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Project Oaken Puts A Tesla On The Blockchain




The IoT hardware and software platform has innovated the way smart cars can operate with toll systems using Ethereum smart contracts.

At the end of 2016, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) announced the launch of the Blockchain Virtual GovHack with the mission of pushing the blockchain limits. Seeking out the best and brightest developers, designers, and entrepreneurs, the hackathon garnered the attention of Project Oaken, an autonomous machine-to-machine platform that designs IoT infrastructure to power smart cities and smart devices.

On January 6th, 2016, Project Oaken published a YouTube video showcasing their entry into the 2017 Blockchain Virtual GovHack. The project is a real world use case of a Tesla vehicle utilizing the Ethereum network to autonomously pay a toll with Ether.

The video shows a Tesla communicating with the Ethereum blockchain. As the Tesla approaches the tollgate, the vehicle triggers the tollbooth to execute a smart contract transaction. The tollbooth receives the signal from the “pay toll” contract, opens the gate, and grants the Tesla access.


Project Oaken’s technology works by growing what they call ACORNS (Autonomous Communication Over Redundant Node Systems) that utilize Node JS, IPFS, and Ethereum to power their decentralized system, which is compatible with all blockchains that utilize the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM).

Here are the steps of the process:

  1. The Tesla (or any other Oaken smart vehicle) uses ACORNS to access raw data from Tesla’s Can-bus port and communicates it to the Ethereum blockchain.
  2. Oaken’s tollbooth ACORNS controls a tollgate with a red and green light for “stop” and “go”.
  3. When the Tesla arrives at the tollgate, it tells the toll it wants to pay triggering the tollbooth to execute a smart contract transaction.
  4. The smart contract transaction takes the raw Tesla data and communicates it to the blockchain in the form of an IPFS hash.
  5. The Tesla validates the blockchain transaction using the raw Can-bus data and compares it to the GPS data from the tollgate smart contract.
  6. The Can-bus data is stored on an IPFS and a “pay toll” smart contract is triggered to seamlessly pay the toll with Ether (ETH) or another cryptocurrency.
  7. The Tollbooth ACORNS receives the signal from the “pay toll” contract, opens the gate, and the Tesla is permitted access to the toll road.

What’s great about Project Oaken’s entry is that it can radically change the current toll systems around the globe. As it stands today, tolls require expensive, centralized servers for accounting, identity, and payment processing. With Oaken’s decentralized system, toll systems can eliminate the central server infrastructure and reduce the standard 3 percent transaction fee to a mere 0.01 percent. This process is executed instantaneously and according to Oaken, “reduces the toll fee to a maintenance fee once the road infrastructure is paid for.”


Oaken’s technology has far-reaching implications that include autonomous parking and vehicle registration, seamless transfer of vehicle ownership, short-term vehicle leasing, and self-driving cars. Their security model ensures physical and network security, blockchain device registration, and a Hardware Security Module (HSM) for the generation and storage of keys, along with the ability to securely sign transactions.

ETHNews has reached out to both Tesla and Project Oaken and will be updating this story as we gain more details and insight.

Los Silva

Los Silva is a writer and filmmaker who has collaborated with tech and design companies. His interest in Ethereum stems from emerging creative applications that allow artists control of their work through blockchain technology.

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