Scientific discoveries and technological innovations often march in step; or, as is increasingly the case, in giant leaps. The resulting synergy helps to create value and new business models. Consider, for example, how these advances are making possible the creation and enhancement of the driverless car: Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR), the actinometer (detector of radiation intensity), Lane Departure Warning (LDW), and car-to-car communications.
Similarly, the rapidly expanding Internet of Things (IoT) is poised to benefit from Bitcoin and its blockchain technology. The likely synergy between the IoT and Bitcoin will fuel the creation of new businesses and new applications that will enhance the driverless car experience and thereby shape the future of surface transportation.
Driverless Cars and Bitcoin Frictionless Micropayments
The power of the Internet of Things and Bitcoin can be harnessed by the driverless car market to introduce new ways of processing routine business transactions. It can also open the door for developing entirely new commercial applications. For example, this synergistic relationship could deliver solutions that will integrate frictionless, frequent micropayments with Bitcoin micropayment capabilities.
To operate safely, driverless cars will require the use of various services, many of which might be paid for on a pay-per-use basis. In these cases, driverless car users might wish to make these payments without having to subscribe to a variety of service providers, and without being subjected to the expensive fees charged by banks or credit and debit card issuers.
Driverless cars will comprise many sensors and devices that will intercommunicate within the car. Additionally, cars will communicate in vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) modes. Therefore, driverless cars will need to pay for reliable communication services.
Actually, the use of driverless cars will necessitate paying for a myriad of other services, such as self-parking, tolls, Wi-Fi hotspots, radars, laser rangefinders, and highway navigation data. Also, new services that we have not yet even imagined are likely to be created in support of driverless cars.
Thus, by exploiting the synergy between the IoT and Bitcoin and its blockchain technology, creative entrepreneurs will be able to develop business products that could benefit from Bitcoin-based capabilities for frictionless micropayments.
Driverless Cars, Smart Contracts, and Smart Assets
Bitcoin and its blockchain technology can also play a significant role in creating entirely new business models related to the shared transportation market.
The beauty of Bitcoin and its blockchain resides in the fact that transactions are completely trustless – without any trusted authority. So contrary to legal contracts, blockchain smart contracts have no physical enforcing authority. “Smart contracts can substitute an army of lawyers, accountants, and policemen,” said Nick Szabo, pioneer of the blockchain and smart contracts.
Smart contracts are computer algorithms that, without relying on human intervention, can verify, execute, and enforce the terms of a business agreement. Smart property is a property whose ownership is controlled by means of smart contracts.
Indeed, the driverless car is a promising area for growth and innovation, because it can benefit from smart contracts and smart asset solutions. The following examples illustrate its great potential:
Google is already launching the RideWith application, which uses “Waze’s navigation system to learn the routes drivers most frequently take to work and match them up with people looking for a ride in the same direction,” according to Reuters. “Commuters pay fellow drivers a small fee for a ride to and from work.”
The driverless taxi or shared autonomous vehicle (SAV) is another innovative concept, which Professors Kara M. Kockelman and Daniel J. Fagnant presented early this year.
Furthermore, some of the biggest challenges the driverless car bring may not be technological, but ethical, as it makes us confront new moral questions. For example, “Should driverless cars kill their passengers to save a pedestrian?,” asked writer Olivia Goldhill.
Also, the whole legal framework will change as legislators and other government officials are already discussing how to adapt their legal frameworks to the future of surface transportation.
Consequently, car insurance and proof of ownership protocols will be no longer be the same. And, these are precisely the areas where Bitcoin and its blockchain have enormous potential to transform the ways we manage car insurance, ownership, and security.
By the way, exciting work is being done in the realm of smart contracts. Specifically, Sergio Lerner’s work on RootStock looks promising. RootStock is a smart-contract peer-to-peer platform built on top of the Bitcoin Blockchain. Thus, “RootStock as a side chain will combine the best cryptocurrency with the best smart contract platform,” said Nick Szabo.
Driverless cars are coming soon. By the year 2020, Nissan, Toyota, and Honda plan to roll out their first driverless cars, according to the Wall Street Journal. While Google claims in its October monthly report that its driverless cars are already driving a weekly average of 10,000 to 15,000 miles, on public streets.
Driverless cars will bring with them revolutionary improvements in transportation as well as new challenges. Bitcoin and its blockchain technology are uniquely situated to play a central role in maximizing these improvements and minimizing these challenges.
What are your thoughts on using bitcoins to pay for the services that driverless cars will require? Let us know in the comments below!
Images courtesy of Pixabay.