We're still not quite sure what all of this is for, but Porsche has announced that they will be implementing blockchain applications for their products in their vehicles, working with Berlin-based start-up XAIN. Some of you may know the term "blockchain" from cryptocurrency, as part of the now infamous Bitcoin and many others, but Porsche feels that there are many automotive applications that the system would be effective for.
The blockchain itself is simply a protocol for data transaction that's decentralized, in the sense that it does need to go through a central system to be verified. By being more peer to peer than requiring a system, it speeds up the process by a great deal - for example, unlocking a car door via an app takes just 1.6 seconds, which is 6 times faster than before. The other benefit of a blockchain is that it documents every action and process, and can be encrypted quickly and efficiently.
In terms of applications, there are plenty that can be implemented for the car of the future - although Porsche and XAIN are setting their sights on the autonomous vehicle. The idea is to speed up car to user and car to car communication, which makes processing and decision making a lot quicker and results in a smoother, more streamlined autonomous vehicle. It would also speed up payment authentication at a charging station, improving the electromobility experience.
But there is an important consideration to keep in mind. Blockchains are tamper proof as a result of their transparency in operation, but as they grow longer with each transaction the speed of processing begins to drop. Even with energy efficient mining processes for the transactions themselves, it may be something Porsche has to consider in the long run. With more and more functionality comes more events and contracts being tacked on to the blockchain, and in turn the time to process will increase.