Members from the Mobility Open Blockchain Initiative (MOBI) and representatives from major technology companies and automakers convened at IBM’s China Headquarters in Shanghai on Wednesday to discuss the way forward to accelerate the development of connected cars and autonomous mobility solutions.
Organizers explained the first APAC MOBI Colloquium set out to explore the current state of blockchain research and development, IoT solutions and how these new technologies can make mobility greener, safer and more accessible for China and the region.
MOBI — which includes companies such as BMW, Ford, General Motors, KAR Auction Services and RouteOne — emphasized that today’s vehicles are evolving from a mode of transport to moving data centers with onboard sensors and computers that capture information about the vehicle and its surroundings.
Experts said blockchains can unleash this data to power a new and more sustainable future.
In China, MOBI pointed out that blockchain is undergoing a period of rapid growth and experimentation. Officials recapped several developments, including:
— The People’s Bank of China recently backed and piloted a new blockchain-based trade finance platform
— The judiciary adopted rules making blockchain evidence admissible in court
— The Agricultural Bank of China made a blockchain mortgage.
MOBI chief executive officer Chris Ballinger noted the development of blockchain technology itself is key to the nation’s technological advancement.
“Blockchain and decentralized ledger technology has great potential to make mobility greener, safer, and more accessible for cities around the world, especially for nations with rapid urbanization like China,” Ballinger said. “MOBI is set up to promote the advancement of a future solution that combines smart cities and connected cars to make people’s lives better. This is a big mission. It is not a task to be realized by a single company.
“By bringing together key stakeholders, experts, and partners, we believe MOBI is in the right position at the right time to advance this grand vision,” he added.
MOBI indicated China has more than 300 million registered vehicles — almost the same number as people in the United States — and the number continues to rise.
The organization also mentioned 10 out of the 25 most congested cities in the world are in mainland China, and vehicle emissions have become a major source of air pollution in China.
A new mobility solution is needed to ensure a sustainable future, according to MOBI.
If this vision can be realized, MOBI stressed the potential benefits it brings to society are immense. Officials cited studies that have shown that autonomous vehicles can optimize fuel efficiency and reduce emissions by 60%.
“In the U.S. alone, people in urban areas spend about 7 billion hours in traffic every year. That’s 3.1 billion gallons of fuel wasted and $160 billion lost due to traffic congestion,” MOBI said. “Most importantly, by minimizing human error, autonomous vehicle solutions can reduce accidents by 90%.”
According to a Rand Corp. study, 1 trillion miles of self-driving data is needed in order for autonomous vehicle models to be accurate and safe. Waymo, the former Google autonomous car project, is driving 25,000 miles a day. At this rate, MOBI calculated it would take close to 110,000 years to reach the Rand Corp. mileage target.
“The linchpin is data,” Ocean Protocol founder Trent McConaghy said. “We are bringing to MOBI a blockchain-powered platform that enables data to be shared in a safe, privacy-preserving, borderless fashion. Algorithms can travel to data to get trained without exposing the data or taking a copy.
This is ideal for MOBI’s partners and community to retain data privacy and ownership. For the first time we can unlock the value of data without unlocking data itself,” McConaghy continued.
Organizers added the MOBI Colloquium Shanghai brought together a diverse network of industry leaders and startups, providing them with a platform to share knowledge and innovate.
“Widespread adoption of blockchain technology cannot be achieved without the creation and agreement upon standards to regulate the ecosystem,” MOBI said. “By encouraging communication between differing industries, MOBI helps drive forward blockchain scalability.
“China’s robust mobility, blockchain, IoT, and AI ecosystem offers tremendous opportunities for MOBI community members to create a brighter and safer future,” the organization went on to say.
The first APAC MOBI Colloquium was hosted by IBM — also a member of the Auto Intel Council — and co-organized by CPChain and Tribe Accelerator.