This is my very first whitepaper and it is written in English, obviously. Please forgive me, in case I do not meet the criteria for a whitepaper completely or lack eloquent and bloomy wording.
As many of you already know, I’m very keen on supporting a total paradigm shift in how future mobility should look like. Several pieces here on my blog as well as on t3n – digital pioneers indicate my view of public transport versus individual mobility. Time is running out for ownership, which is one of the worst investments regularly plus repeatedly done by millions of people around the globe. The waste of billions of Euros on a piece of metal cage standing still 22 hours a day is unprecedented in human history. Not to mention the waste of resources to make, move and maintain them. While German car manufacturer haven’t had a single innovation for decades and racking in high profits by selling cars burning dinosaurs, at least this problem is being addressed. The world is going electric and neither Mr. Dobrindt nor Mr. Wissmann will stop it. I doubt, they even will delay it more than a year.
Mainly we people should thank one company and one man in particular driving that change despite of all the idiocy he took from the so called industry leader for years. Last week Elon Musk published the second part of his Tesla masterplan. After I’ve processed his thoughts, I knew there is no time to waste to publish my thoughts on how mobility and blockchain should merge. I’ve played the idea back and forth in my head for quite a while and the time is ripe.
Firstly for sharing models, since some megatrends drive people to major cities steadily year by year, jamming streets with cars in the aftermath. Sadly enough, you do not have to travel to Bejing for experiencing traffic congestions that bad, one is sitting in a car for a long time to and from work. Owning or using a vehicle in cities becomes less appealing year after year and I have not even been talking about the environmental impact yet. But don’t worry, this article is not about green tech. Car sharing companies like car2go or drive-now successfully roll out city after city.
Each vehicle used for one-way car sharing, in particular, can eliminate as many as 11 cars from plying the streets and cutting greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 13 metric tons a year
While on the other end of the spectrum the likes of Uber and Lyft provide ridesharing the web 2.0 way. Big players like GM or VW have realized the opportunity of those ridesharing services and made a move by investing in Lyft and Gett. Now with Tesla entering the arena, there definitely is some potential. If one looks closely to Elon’s Masterplan part 2, autonomous driving will hold the key to make it happen. Just three weeks ago I made a vlog about the expected impact of electrification and autonomous cars (in german) on jobs across the board. The first to go are cab drivers, followed by bus and truck drivers. Imagine a world where computers will control the logistic of a city or container will travel from Warsaw to Paris on self-driving trucks without a night sleep for the driver. Those road trains will just go, because computer don’t need to rest. Removing the human being out of the equation not only leads to safer roads, it also decreases the cost for logistics significantly! Some researcher predict 0.30$ instead of 2$ per Uber mile.
Once this kicks in, sales figures of car companies will drop continuously while cities become greener, healthier and much more roomy. There won’t be any parking lots left to leave a piece of metal, because most of the inhabitants use public transport or robot-taxis to get from A to B. One can only hope the new space is used wisely, I’d suggest grass, trees or playgrounds.
So basically it sums up to:
- Electrification slows down climate change
- Ridesharing reduces the amount of cars
- Autonomous driving reduces fares for ridesharing and that will further diminish the need for car ownership
- Disintermediation through the Blockchain
Blockchain enters the arena
I won’t get into details what exactly a blockchain is or what it is capable of. Just in short, I stick with the explanation from the Bank of England:
A technology that allows people who don’t know each other to trust a shared record of events
This shared record, or ledger, is distributed to all participants in a network, who use their computers to validate transactions and thus remove the need for a third party to intermediate. Let’s focus on this last word for a moment. Disintermediation is the core principle of the blockchain and there is a lot of that in the business case described above. Therefore, I suggest to found a mobility DAO (decentralized autonomous organization). By doing so the intermediator Uber, Lyft or car2go will be replaced by an artificial intelligence, which is partly empowered by smart contracts. These smart contracts are a set of rules with compliance, incorruptibility and reliability up front. In an ideal world the mobility DAO has absolutely no interest in earning money by running a ridesharing business. But let’s be real, someone will expect to get a return. But compared with the operational costs for complex organizations from today the mobility DAO can be operated very efficient!
So how does this mobility DAO work?
In fact the mobility DAO will need vehicles to begin with. The cars will be ordered at a car manufacturer. Thanks to a smart contract the car manufacturer will rest assured that the mobility DAO will pay him on delivery. Typically we are talking about a lease or finance here.
In addition smart contracts will guarantee the delivery of the vehicle. Blockchain technology plays a crucial part in this transaction, because how would a publicly traded entity trust a machine other than through blockchain technology? The vehicles will be specially designed for this purpose and by that I do not mean the seating order. Every vehicle will own itself (or is owned by the mobility DAO, which doesn’t really matter for the idea) and will hold a DNA full of policies. For example, it is forced to get its tires checked every 5000km or any malfunction needs to be taken care of at a garage immediately. This DNA is programmed and secured within smart contracts. Again, it is impossible to tamper or negotiate with smart contracts, because those are simple IF THEN orders executed as soon as a specific trigger kicks in.
The users will send requests through a Dapp to the mobility DAO – let’s say for the sake of simplicity that there still will be apps 3-5 years down the road. Riders and cars will be matched and charged accordingly. On top of that, one should add a little foresight to the mobility DAO by injecting economical sense in interpreting demand and supply. New vehicles will be ordered to match demand. The vehicles then will decide autonomous about whether it will accept a ride for a certain price, or will pass. It will calculate all costs permanently and execute an economical decision. Part of this section is already out there, although it is limited to a ridesharing community. Check out LaZooz or Arcade City.
As a little side note, the public blockchain provides indisputable documentation of every second of operation in case this is needed. Eventually, the blackbox comes right with every car and here is the kicker: autonomous cars run by a blockchain/ DAO have no right for privacy. The knowledge will be open to the public, accessible by jurisdiction, police or maybe even everybody.
According to its DNA a vehicle will have to interact with other organizations, for example recharge the battery.
Imagine a vehicle that is not owned by anybody – basically. How would such a thing recharge today? Nowadays one needs to apply for a RFID card, which then grants access to (some) charging poles, bundled within a contract that has to be signed. Well, in my future the car will pull up at any charging stations, negotiating price and amount of electricity. Since machines do not understand the concept of trust, a certain layer has to be added. This layer is the blockchain. While Blockcharge tries to make the life of EV drivers better and less bureaucratic, this approach could be used to recharge the autonomous taxis in exchange for money. But we won’t stop there. Remember, there will be regular maintenance appointments with garages.
Again, as a participating organism in the real world the cars will need to exchange values with other participants, be it maintenance or toll. Governments across the world simply get a free pass how to collect tolls easily and automatically without super complex systems like the ones towering above German autobahns.
Enclosed the video about mobility on the blockchain (in german)