The Volkswagen Group is testing blockchain technology, which offers enormous potential on many fronts: from logistics to self-driving vehicles, and solutions such as tamper-proof odometers.
Bitcoin is the most popular area of application for blockchain technology, which covers a number of different approaches, all of which have one thing in common: they are very secure. Volkswagen Group IT is studying the best opportunities to deploy it in the automotive industry.
The goal is to bring blockchain technology to the road, and for this purpose the division has built up a network of nearly 300 employees, across all the Group’s brands, who freely exchange ideas on this topic and meet multiple times a year.
There is a lot of potential for blockchain in maintenance, logistics and autonomous driving, and it can also be used in specialised applications such as tamper-proof odometer readings. When it comes to self-driving vehicles, this technology can, for example, protect the systems from hackers, as well as help with automatic payments at service stations: manipulating a block in the chain is very difficult, almost impossible, and since Bitcoin was launched in 2009, it has never been hacked.
Volkswagen is currently testing three concrete applications: the first is a mileage clocking system which makes it hard to manipulate odometers, helping the used car market to become more transparent and secure and the vehicles to retain their value better. Customers can permanently save their odometer readings via a sophisticated system which cannot be changed retroactively without somebody noticing that they have been manipulated. Customer data are completely protected, however, as they are not saved on public or Volkswagen networks. The data remain where the customer saved them, and are only accessible to that particular customer. If desired, they can be shared with the blockchain via an encrypted code.
The second application, developed by Porsche, protects cars from hackers better than traditional systems using a virtual key which the owner can give to others to open or even use their car. The third is a pilot study which Volkswagen Financial Services is running in Great Britain. The goal is to create a system to simplify life for electric car owners and streamline business contact between providers and customers of electric charging stations. Each of these has their own different terms and methods of payment, which can often make it complicated for customers to charge their electric vehicles.
Source: TOGETHER.net – Volkswagen AG