The BMW Group has backed an interesting new initiative which was created to explore how to develop technology that will let vehicles communication between each other, co-operate and transact in the future, the Mobility Open Blockchain Initiative (MOBI).
This initiative, which is an urgent demand as the “smart cities” of the near future are closer to being a reality every day, will last four months. The MOBI Grand Challenge will start on October 12, Friday. On this day, the BMW Group will hold a public demonstration of its technologies in Munich, Germany.
MOBI has many important members at the moment. They are mostly made up of carmaker companies and tech startups, but Coindesk has recently reported that the co-founder of the MOBI initiative, Chris Ballinger, has affirmed that the R3 consortium (one of the three most powerful blockchain consortiums in the world together with the Ethereum Alliance and Hyperledger), has signed up as a member
The Prizes And The Competition
Like many other initiatives of this sort, the BMW Group will pay its competitors with blockchain tokens of the Ocean Protocol, which will be used for mobility and data sharing. The Ocean Protocol will consist of a blockchain that will enable data exchange protocols. The company has committed to giving $1 million USD worth in tokens as the prize.
Another part of the prize will be paid via Beyond Protocol tokens. Beyond Protocol has created a machine-to-machine economy using the blockchain and has committed to giving a prize which will be $250,000 USD worth in tokens.
Some investment from the government is expected as well. The group has affirmed that corporate and government sponsorship will also be used to support the project as it unravels.
A Cross Between DARPA Grand Challenge And XPRIZE
According to the head of the event, Ballinger, the competition will be less of a hackaton and more of a mixture between the DARPA Grand Challenge and XPRIZE.
The comparison makes some sense when you understand that hackatons are generally short bursts of energy and enthusiasm focused on developing quick solutions fast and these challenges are more often like DARPA, in which robotic vehicles competed to navigate without drivers in the Mojave Desert.
Ballinger has affirmed when talking to the crypto media, that he is inspired by the first DARPA challenge, which happened in 2004. According to him, this is only the first step of something far greater than what will happen in this next four months.
The CEO has affirmed that this is just the first phase of a 3-year project created by the BMW Group. The project consists in assembling and testing next-gen tech and see how it works, including some components like non-GPS location communication between two different vehicles and the whole infrastructure of the network, as well as some other feature like ad-hoc mobile tech and micropayments.
While he is certainly hyped by the beginning of this new project, Ballinger also knows that he has to start out small. According to him, “nobody is going to hit the home run in the first step”, as the technology is still way too immature at this point and more research will be needed. However, he likes the prospects for the future and believes that the “home run” can be achieved in the near future.
About Micropayments And Electric Cars
If you are not too familiar with the technology at work here, it can seem very strange to link cars and micropayments that you can do with your wallet, but long-time technology fans and investors will see the connection fast.
Coindesk has reported on its piece that people from the industry have already hypothesized that people would be able to make payments more quickly using microtransactions directly from their cars.
Ballinger, when speaking about the subject, has affirmed that micropayments will certainly be important as a way to equip vehicles for the future, as they can do all this and much like with the technology (or will be able to do it in a near future).
According to the CEO of MOBI, micropayments can serve as an incentive for people to share data which can be used to reduce traffic flows and make the driver safer with time. With the help of the technology that will hopefully be developed by the company, cars will be connected with the infrastructure of the city and of the other vehicles in a way that was never seen before.
This can be used even to avoid accidents as it will allow car owners to negotiate and “see around corners”. Even small automatic adjustments on speed as cars approach each other can be very effective as a way to reduce accidents, Ballinger believes.
Jonathan Manzi, CEO of the Beyond Protocol, one the sponsors, has affirmed that his team is already focused on making self-driving electric cars that can charge each other with wallets built into their battery units and that the technology is increasingly getting more efficient and advanced over time as the research and development process continues.
An electric smart car, Manzi defends, will be able to go to a charging station, and then use wireless technology to send the energy to another car which runs out of it.