Ford patents blockchain solution to allow cars communicate for managing traffic congestion:
American auto-maker Ford has patented a technology that will allow cars to communicate between themselves and help manage traffic congestion. The blockchain-powered solution envisages a crypto token to facilitate cooperation among vehicles, which will help the drivers and ease traffic congestion.
If you need to reach to somewhere quickly, you would want a relatively congestion-free stretch of freeway, and you would want to be able to merge into fast-flowing traffic according to your convenience. However, there are others who would want that as well, and there is no way for you to communicate with these other drivers and set up a mutually beneficial arrangement of road-space sharing instantaneously.
Also, when traffic cataracts occur, i.e. a lane of freeway is closed for some reasons, and traffic piles up on the other lanes, there is no way for you to know that ahead of time. Like every other vehicle, you drive into the same piled-up traffic, and together with the other drivers negotiate the slow traffic. Here too, if you had a way to know about the traffic cataract and had a way to coordinate with the other drivers, bunch of cars could pass the congested stretch in batches, instead of everyone trying to negotiate the same stretch simultaneously.
In today’s scenario, you don’t have any means to contact the other drivers also present during the above-mentioned scenario, and there is no incentive to facilitate instantaneous cooperative arrangements. A technology solution that can allow cars to communicate, and provides incentives for cooperation, can facilitate instantaneous mutually beneficial arrangements.
Ford‘s patent proposes to solve this with blockchain technology, which ensures decentralization by design. Individual computers on this network of distributed database, also called nodes, can transact among themselves, without a central authority managing all transactions. No existing block records, also called blocks, can be deleted or modified.
Only way to update blockchain is to add a new block, and the consensus mechanism of blockchain ensures that it can be done only after very significant number-crunching at high-speed, and only if the transaction is approved by majority of the nodes tasked with transaction validation. Thus, blockchain ensures immutability of records, with complete audit-trail. Most blockchains use smart contracts to govern relationship between entities and trust in the system is managed mathematically.
Ford‘s solution, called a “Cooperatively Managed Merge and Pass (CMMP) system”, is designed to work as following:
- A vehicle can be a ‘consumer vehicle’ or a ‘merchant vehicle’.
- A consumer vehicle wants to drive at higher speed through a less-congested lane, at a particular time, and for a certain duration, and is willing to pay using CMMP crypto tokens.
- The vehicles will have vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication modules, and cooperative adaptive cruise control (CACC) systems.
- The merchant vehicles receive a request from the consumer vehicle and agree to the request. They move to slower-traffic lane, or allow the consumer vehicle to merge and pass.
- Due to the blockchain-powered system, the consumer vehicle know which vehicles have accepted the request. The system also identifies the vehicles that have moved to slower lanes or allowed the consumer vehicle to merge and pass.
- The driver of the consumer vehicle can distribute the CMMP tokens to the merchant vehicles that acceded to his request.
- When traffic cataracts have formed, the intelligent cars will receive signals from the other such blockchain-powered cooperative cars that have already reached the cataract point, and have passed it. The intelligent and cooperative cars then help their drivers form batches of cars and pass the cataract, instead of everyone trying to negotiate the cataract simultaneously.
Ford‘s solution envisages using blockchain to let cars communicate among themselves to manage traffic congestion, however, blockchain is already being explored in the auto industry, for e.g.:
- German auto-maker Daimler AG, famous for its Mercedes-Benz, is working on their blockchain project to reward drivers for environment-friendly driving practices such as smooth driving.
- Japanese car-maker Toyota has plans to use blockchain to collect data related to driverless cars.
- German car-maker Volkswagen has partnered with IOTA foundation to develop a public network for smart cars.