How blockchain will transcend how AI is used in mobile transportation 

Right now, you open the door to your car and sit in the driver’s seat. Unless you actually do something like start the car, adjust the temperature, maybe find a good song on the radio or input your destination into your navigation system, your car doesn’t respond. Frankly your car does NOT know you. That’s about to change thanks to AI and the blockchain, the immutable technology platform behind the cryptocurrency bitcoin, which will transcend how intelligent software is used in mobile transportation. 

Taking a view from 10,000 feet, at present, the mobility experience starts and ends with driving from point A to point B. That’s changing quickly on the heels of major advances in self-driving technology. However, thanks to an open-source distributed ecosystem built on a blockchain protocol, it will evolve to become a truly cognitive and interactive experience by 2030. 

Blockchain will move way beyond digital audit trails to allow riders to not only safely hitch a ride to or from, it will be an application used to help consumers be more integrated into their communities by presenting new ways to connect people with shared interests such as a going to a sporting event or music concert. The idea of turning a car into nodes that can create a community of people is something that has begun to be tested in the book world. Renting the car could open the metaphoric door to discounts at events, restaurants and trips - literally the sky is the limit. 

To be successful in this new digitally connected world, automakers must be forward-thinking and prepare today for how both augmented realty (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technologies will be used in the intelligent car of the future. These virtual technologies, recently endorsed in a big way by Apple, should further validate the accelerated adoption of blockchain by automakers trying to thwart remote vehicle hacking (seen in Jeep and Tesla models in recent years), “securely” build out their digital offerings to consumers and also explore how to navigate the ethical perplexities that may arise between real and digital worlds. 

With a major push by automakers already in the works to connect with consumers for ALL their mobility needs (see Ford’s 2017 Super Bowl commercial), the allure of blockchain is simply too exciting to pass up. From a) validating automotive parts along the supply chain or aftermarket, to b) communicating with other Internet of Things (IoT) products (home/city), to c) supporting a more personalized car sharing market and d) tailoring insurance based on actual driving habits or usage, to e) authenticating transactions, including electric vehicle charging stations on the go (anywhere and in real-time), to f) monetizing excess renewable energy from vehicles to the grid (V2G), to g) safeguarding digital innovation such as Digital Assistants/AR/VR, Big Data to h) developing Digital Twin technology or digital models to better understand or anticipate consumer needs via decentralized data sharing and/or predict vehicle maintenance/service requirements in advance and to i) more easily connecting drivers with the local marketplace/community, to j) provenance for tracking the life ownership or history of a car, blockchain needs to part of all automotive strategy plans in an increasingly digital society. 

Considering there will be an addition of 50 million Americans by 2030 according to the U.S. Census Bureau, automakers must prepare for future consumers that won’t simply want digital innovation, they will demand it. All in all, this brings us back to blockchain and how it will allow ownership of personal data to stay with people, not outside vendors - something key to remember. 

Blockchain, which will move way beyond digital audit trails, can also create opportunities to capitalize on smart contracts resulting from picking up passengers going in the same direction for a fee, an area Google, which owns popular community traffic and navigation company Waze, is moving forward with its RideWith application. Beyond that idea, we fully expect by 2030 for blockchain’s usage in mainstream to grow to the point you can make a transaction from the car and have your connected car pick up the order. Example: You may not be able to leave your the kids to run to Home Depot. However, with blockchain securing your transaction from end to end you can now order something via connected appliances and your driverless car will be capable of bringing you back your items safely. Neat huh?

Speaking of safely, safety could take different shapes and forms when it comes to implementing blockchain into mobility solutions. Sensors in the car could be developed to record what happened during an accident, something that could cause futures vehicles to have a digital black box secured by decentralized blockchain technology that identifies and profiles the driver digitally and also determines liabilities in crashes without the need of lawyers - a theme that can radically impact the auto insurance sector in years to come. Thus, AI and the blockchain which can transform and unleash it, become an extension of the consumer’s behavior and taste thanks to learned behavior trained on large datasets. This “extension” is one that can take the wheel completely or be helpful about ways we can drive better than we think we can. That’s true intelligent transport, one that makes driving not only safer, but more pleasurable. 

From algorithms that can recommend what you might like (i.e. Netflix, Pandora, Amazon, iTunes) to facial recognition software analytics that can detect your mood (something Apple applied for a patent for in 2014) and play your favorite song to a virtual assistant that can help you get ahead of your schedule, the possibilities are endless. Feeling tired? AI can help you safely get home through steering wheels that keep us guide us to be sharper on the road or it can even fully take the wheel and give you that much needed break. Connecting car technology and behavioral biometrics with emotion is something AI will allow to even reduce instances of road rage, something AAA noted 80% of drivers admitted to expressing in 2016. Additionally, 56% of fatal accidents involve some form of aggressive driving so perhaps this is a huge area automakers can help address by 2030. 

At the end of the day, people want quick and convenient access to transportation on demand. As a result, they will treat cars like public transportation and more swiftly adopt car sharing vs car ownership. Yet to make each and every car feel like their very own, blockchain platforms must be included in automotive design and usage since maintaining privacy will be critical in an era where data is increasingly vital to personalization. 

With AI moving quickly into intelligent transport, the need to keep deep learning infrastructure nimble and current will be a competitive advantage for automakers, but it all must begin with trust. In an era of increasingly digitalization, trust becomes an ever bigger selling point when consumers use products and services, especially since according to a study out of Pew Research Center, millennials believe only 19% of people can be trusted as a compared to 31% for Generation X, 37% of Silents and 40% of Baby Boomers. 

Thus, AI can help automakers capitalize on an amazing opportunity to leverage public trust and offer new digital touch-points that will attract in even more consumers into the intelligent automotive Ecosystem of the future. This makes blockchain a very critical platform for the future of intelligent mobility. 

John Licata is a Strategist and Communications Lead at Blue Phoenix Inc. focusing on the future of digital innovation, especially blockchain, AI and energy. You can follow John on Twitter @bluephoenixinc