People Stories

A Future Driven by Blockchain

June 26, 2018

For an internal hackathon at MBRDNA, a group of software engineers outlined a concept of how blockchain could be used by mobile users to reserve and pay for a ride on a self-driving car. A few months later, the engineers brought their winning concept to life with a working demo that illustrates the blockchain advantage. One of them was Martin Dureja, a Senior Software Engineer in the Sunnyvale office,

“Blockchain is the ideal technology for mobile users because you can use it to securely share data across a decentralized digital ledger. It has many more use cases than a charge card. For one thing, with blockchain, you can opt-in on transactions and you can control your spending more securely.”

How blockchain uses decentralized ledgers is through a database spread across several nodes or computing devices. Each node replicates and saves an identical copy of the ledger, updating itself independently without needed a centralized third party.

Compared to the traditional way of transactions on the internet, blockchain has many advantages without the need for a centralized third party. It’s fast, and (importantly) it’s highly resistant to getting hacked. Already, blockchain has disrupted the financial industry — now it could disrupt how we use it on the road.

Martin’s team worked across the entire company to develop a prototype with Raspberry Pi processors. The demo illustrates an easy scenario: a woman in the near-future needs to make a coffee run. She uses a mobile app to order a self-driving car that comes to her house, and then takes her to the café.

In this case the blockchain technology orders and reserves the car, makes sure the vehicle is available and then pays for it, quickly and securely. Working with varies partner all part of blockchain makes it convenient for the customer to pay for the coffee automatically. The demo illustrates how easy it could be to navigate a mobile experience using blockchain technology from start to finish (and for the demonstration, mobile consumers got caffeine as a reward, paid for with imaginary cryptocurrency, of course).

As the use of vehicles evolves to include more rideshare options — and even carsharing consumption models — tracking and monitoring vehicle usage, maintenance and availability will become increasingly complex. Blockchain is a way for us to keep up with all of these changes. “It’s an exciting time in technology and this whole project gives you an idea of the future. We’re just working on Raspberry Pi processors right now, but in the future? We could have a fleet of cars talking to each other the way the Raspberry Pis are doing it, today,” Dureja says.