Your car's a weather station on wheels with new HPE, Continental blockchain platform

Drivers could get cash back for sharing data with manufacturers, companies reveal

A blockchain-based 'data monetisation platform' being launched by Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) and automotive manufacturing firm Continental, could see vehicles become mobile weather stations and drivers receive cash-back for sharing their data.

The platform, revealed by the companies last month and expected to go live later this year, is being pitched at car manufacturers as a way for them to trade data with each other.

Initially, the companies said, the vehicle data drawn from the platform will be used by car brands to improve digital services to drivers.

"Having access to a critical mass of humidity-sensor, ABS, GPS and other data could enable a vehicle manufacturer to provide very precise and timely warnings of dangerous road conditions to its customers," Christian Reichenbach, HPE transformation consultant, told Computerworld.

Other sensors could be used to provide a live feed of available street parking or congestion.

Data from rival manufacturers is expected to be bought and sold on the platform to make such services more accurate. But car makers are not the only parties that might be interested in a mass of vehicle data, Reichenbach explained.

Having a huge number of mobile weather stations – a vehicle's wiper usage would be a good indicator of rain, its anti-skid system and belt-tension sensors implying black ice, for example – could be of value to weather service providers and city authorities wanting to better target resources.

"The data monetisation platform’s interface capability will enable multiple ecosystems to interconnect and leverage new ways of data monetisation," Reichenbach said.

"The market decides which kind of data is of interest," he added.

The platform was jointly designed by HPE Pointnext and Continental’s Interior division, and also uses unnamed third-party technologies.

"Moreover, we cooperate with startup company Crossbar, leveraging their XBR technology enabling API-based, secure and real-time data sharing between participants," Reichenbach said.

The platform provides for drivers to be "always in control" of their data and privacy, via an "integrated consent management" system where they can adjust their privacy settings, perhaps declining to share any data, or opting to share all data except GPS data.

Cash-back and free services could be offered to encourage motorists to share their data, Reichenbach revealed.

"To ensure sufficient data supply, drivers will receive incentives for sharing data – this could include receiving driver-assistance services for free, vouchers or direct payment. The type of incentive will depend on the individual vehicle manufacturer’s strategy," he said.

HPE and Continental are still determining the business model of the platform, but it is expected to involve a licence fee and transaction fees for the data trading companies. The companies will also provide additional services to facilitate data trading and the integration of vehicle data into car manufacturers’ back-end systems and services.

Continental will also use the platform to source data for its own service offerings – such as its commercial vehicle fuel optimisation system eHorizon – while HPE will offer car manufacturers help to build and manage their decentralised platform nodes, based on HPE infrastructure and Pointnext services.

Bringing together ecosystems of trading partners on a single platform with agreed standards is a common hurdle in blockchain efforts. 

Such hurdles "will inhibit multi-enterprise collaboration, therefore stalling pilots and diminishing wide adoption" a recent report by analyst firm Gartner stated.

But the data monetisation platform "does not require a consortium" Reichenbach said.

"The platform provides a high degree of flexibility by enabling ad-hoc contracts. This means, a car manufacturer does not have to sign a long-term global contract but can for example quickly start using the platform in a specific region.

"Moreover, two car manufacturers could already be enough to create a lot of value in a specific region where these manufacturers have a high market share," he said.

Reichenbach claims to have had "overwhelmingly positive" feedback from "dozens" of automotive companies, and the companies "will have a significant number of car manufacturers signed up when we go live with a first version of the platform later in 2019".

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Tags servicesplatformdrivingAutomotiveBlockchainHewlett Packard EnterpriseHPEdistributed ledger technologyContinentaldriverlessDLT

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