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Toyota ties up with blockchain startups to connect its world



  • Blockchain is one of the world’s most promising emerging technologies and it’s now finding its way into the automotive and transportation sectors


Just a few weeks after Ford officially ousted its CEO in order to make way for a new, more future focused CEO, Toyota, who it could be argued are already firmly on the road to delivering some of the world’s best autonomous and electric vehicles has announced that it’s making its own steps to embrace the next waves of technology.


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Together with MIT Toyota has started enlisting a series of partners who specialise in different facets of Blockchain technology in order that they might explore how the technology could be applied to the car industry.

While Toyota has already unveiled a number of projects that it hopes will help assuage people’s fears at submitting control to an autonomous vehicle, or “Third space” as they’re now calling it, such as Yui their on board artificial intelligence (AI) companion, it’s now also clear that they want to go further, and that means developing a platform that can monitoring and distribute information about the safety of individual vehicles, the way owners use the cars, and cut down on fraud.

“Hundreds of billions of miles of human driving data may be needed to develop safe and reliable autonomous vehicles,” said Chris Ballinger, director of mobility services and chief financial officer at Toyota’s research institute, “blockchains and distributed ledgers may let us pool data from vehicle owners, fleet managers, and manufacturers to shorten the time for reaching this goal, thereby bringing forward the safety, efficiency and convenience benefits of autonomous driving technology.”


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Initially the research will focus on sharing all of the data on every trip that an autonomous vehicle takes, developing tools that make ride sharing a simpler affair, and create new usage based insurance products.

“I’m excited Toyota is spearheading this initiative that uses blockchain technology to create an open platform where users can control their driving data,” said Neha Narula, Director, Digital Currency Initiative at the MIT Media Lab, “our hope is that other industry stakeholders will join this effort to bring safe and reliable autonomous vehicles one step closer to reality.”

Toyota isn’t just working with MIT on the initiative though, they’ve also chosen a few choice Blockchain start ups such as Berlin based BigchainDB, a startup that’s developing a flexible, scalable blockchain ledger that could provide Toyota with the scalability it needs, meanwhile Oaken Innovations and Commuterz, from Dallas and Tel Aviv, respectively, will be working with Toyota to develop blockchain based car sharing, payment and vehicle access applications.


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Finally, Toyota is tapping the Los Angeles based blockchain application developer, Gem to port the applications it has been developing for the healthcare insurance industry to car insurance. The company provides a ledger for distributed inputs from a number of different sources that can then be used to automate much of the insurance claim process. With Toyota, Gem will specifically work on usage based insurance products tied to the telematics coming off of a users’ vehicle.

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