Karl Friedrich Benz was the first person to introduce the use of petrol as a propulsion source for automobiles in 1885 sparking a revolution in the industry, so it seems only fitting to make Daimler, the owner of Mercedes-Benz, the subject of our first deep dive into a car brand using blockchain technology. However, that’s not the only reason we chose them. Daimler has been very active in researching and piloting the possibilities that blockchain technology can grant the automotive sector. They even have their own Blockchain Factory.
1st pilot: Documentation of contracts
Together with Icertis, a leading provider of contract lifecycle management platforms, Daimler developed a blockchain prototype with the goal of monitoring and documenting agreed-upon obligations with their suppliers on the blockchain. The distributed ledger acts like a super-secure and fast bookkeeping system that can not be tampered with. Suppliers can be checked upon a great number of things ranging from working conditions, human rights, environmental protection (for example the extraction of Kobalt) to security, business ethics and compliance. The project is still in a pilot phase and Daimler intends to build on their learnings.
According to Dr. Harry Behrens, Daimler is also looking into the possibilities of how blockchain technology can help build a mobility as a service, or MaaS, platform, and they are examining how they can implement tokenization of asset values or services. Using an electric charging station as an example: In the not so distant future all revenue streams could be automatically calculated and paid out to all parties having a stake in the device.
2nd pilot: Hardware car wallet
In July 2019 Daimler partnered with blockchain firm Riddle & Code to produce a hardware wallet for automobiles. The wallet creates a cryptographic identity for vehicles, enabling data to be collected and shared from vehicles. The data includes their performance and past maintenance and is not limited to the vehicle itself. Secure traffic data could be exchanged between vehicles and smart city environments reducing congestion and lowering insurance premiums.
Ben Schwarz, CEO of Riddle & Code further elaborates on the possibilities by stating that: “Because the wallet syncs a vehicle with its surrounding environment, transactions can be made with any digitally communicative technology including toll booths, parking spaces, and mechanics. However, the genuinely disruptive new marketplaces will come from data.”
Tom Furstner, CTO of Riddle & Code further said that “With cryptographic hardware, distributed ledger technology will “turn automobiles into future market places.”
3rd pilot: Machine to Machine payments
Daimler teamed up with Commerzbank and Frankfurt bank in august of 2019 to use a blockchain-based payment solution for machine-to-machine payments. In this experiment Daimler trucks were able to automatically pay for an electrical charging point, pioneering in the space and showing how blockchain technology will make human interaction in these actions obsolete. The first results already show a substantial increase in logistic efficiency and marks the start of future machine to machine interactions.
The system is aimed at a new generation of interconnected machinery capable of operating with rising degrees of autonomy.
It is clear that Daimler is not only interested in the possibilities that blockchain technology will bring to the automotive sector, but is one of the most active brands already working to get their cars involved with the tech. With everything that’s affecting the sector from electrical propulsion, new companies like Google and Apple looking for ways to get in the automotive market, government regulations and new technologies like autonomous driving and blockchain technology, car manufacturers will have to innovate to not be left behind. Daimler is leading the way and is showing the other brands what the future might hold.