A Peek into the Future — Mobility-On-Demand with Self-Driving Cars and Blockchain Technology

The latest World Economic Forum on Global Agenda is happening in Abu Dhabi, UAE from 25th to 27th of this month. The event will include experts and thought leaders from around the world to meet, discuss and find ways to address the challenges faced by people and governments across the world. The topics discussed in this forum will not be limited to the global economy or finance but also social, technological and ecological challenges of the present day and near future.

One of the topics in this World Economic Forum’s agenda includes emerging urban innovations and a report has been published on the same. One of the prominent urban innovations that features in the top ten list is Mobility-on-Demand.

What is the total count of automobiles across the world? I was surprised to know that there are people and organizations that are actually keeping count of them. According to a report by Navigant Research, there are over 1.2 billion automobiles around the world and the number is going to cross 2 billion by the end of 2035. Most of these vehicles run on fossil fuels and the damage caused to the environment by their exhaust fumes in unmentionable. Not to mention the amount of urban real estate these vehicles take up every day. Is there a solution for all these?

Mobility-on-Demand is the solution for it. Mobility-on-Demand involves getting a mode of transportation when needed. It doesn’t matter whether one really owns a car or not. At present, we have taxi services like Uber, Lyft and Ola who are offering such services with conventional automobiles powered by smartphones and the internet. But with further advancements in technology, there is an even better option that is soon coming our way — Self-Driving Cars! Self-driving cars are a reality now, even though they are still being tested and hasn’t been widely adopted yet, they will soon be everywhere.

Self-driving cars opens up a whole new opportunity to create a community level mobility-on-demand solution. Basically these self-driving cars are hooked into the internet and have some smart sensors and equipment on board which will eliminate the need of a person behind the wheel. Without the need of a dedicated driver, these cars can potentially drive around anyone anywhere at any time instead of sitting idle in the parking lot while the owner is at work or catching a nap.

While the concept is sound and the car can be practically anywhere in the city, driving long distances. The fuel and maintenance charges will still be borne by the owner. It can be resolved by charging for the rides. This is where bitcoin comes into picture. With these cars being smart enough to drive people around on streets, navigating through traffic, possibly made up of other self-driving cars, they can surely handle bitcoin payments. Connecting these self-driving cars of the future with blockchain will make it even better.

The advantage of using blockchain technology to connect IoT devices is already established and companies like Samsung, 21 Inc. are already working on it. It can be easily speculated that the Internet of Things will be an “in-thing” by the time everyone has self-driving cars. With all devices, appliances and even automobiles connected to owner’s device through blockchain monitoring, maintenance and monetization becomes easy. Once the car picks someone up, they can connect their bitcoin wallet or a special application on their mobile phone to the car’s network so that the car can automatically deduct the trip cost from the connected account upon completion of the trip. To make it further interesting, the car can be enabled to visit a service centre whenever it is due for service and pay for it using its inbuilt wallet that stores bitcoins collected from passengers.

A lot of things are possible with blockchain technology in the near future. A combination of smart devices, Internet of Things, blockchain technology and artificial intelligence can change the world we live in, for better or for worse.

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