Blockchain and alternative technologies in autonomous driving passenger cars 1/2

Blockchain and alternative technologies in autonomous driving passenger cars 1/2

Welcome to our series of articles about current theses of our students!

Alumnus and head of the E-Commerce Institute Cologne Robin Kracht wrote an outstanding master’s thesis on “Blockchain and alternative technologies in autonomous driving passenger cars” as part of her Digital Management studies at the Fresenius University of Applied Sciences in Cologne. The abstract is presented below. Look forward to the second part on 12/14/20.


Autonomous vehicles and the “question of trust”

Digitization is currently one of the key drivers of technical and economic progress. Our mobility is also undergoing major changes in this respect: In the foreseeable future, autonomous cars and new “mobility ecosystems” will become possible and will be realized. A major challenge is the question of how many legally independent players can work together in a trusting and reliable manner. This is especially true since autonomous vehicles must meet the highest requirements for the safety of passengers and other road users. Only after this “question of trust” has been resolved are autonomous passenger cars conceivable in everyday life.

Autonomous driving offers many advantages

By driving autonomously, the ecological footprint per kilometer driven can be reduced. Resources can be used more efficiently and sustainably through optimized route planning and coordinated driving (swarm mobility / convoy driving). The need for an own car becomes obsolete, which means that there will be considerably fewer vehicles. In addition, mobility and time costs will be lower, since other activities can be carried out during the travel time.

Cable harnesses and their technical limitations

One problem is the current data exchange infrastructure in cars, which is based on a line switch in cable harnesses. This architecture is increasingly reaching its technical limits in terms of data volume and other components to be included. Since autonomous driving requires a large number of components such as sensors, for example, and these components need to exchange a lot of data in real time, a switch to digital packet switching is necessary.

Remedy thanks to Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT)

The Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) could be the future. DLT are systems that implement distributed data ownership and data storage. Current implementations of DLT are characterized by the fact that once accepted data blocks can neither be deleted nor subsequently changed and are thus protected against manipulation. Depending on the implementation, different approaches are used at the time of data exchange to determine the validity of the data set.

DLT and its advantages

With the DLT, the advantage is especially that the “question of trust” can be solved more cost-effectively and faster compared to traditional approaches. Furthermore, corresponding services (ecosystems) can be enabled. The DLT is about the error-free, complete, provable and secure transfer of data and instructions for action between components in the car (sensors, motor, logic) as well as between several cars and traffic control systems (traffic lights). Traffic efficiency and safety are increased accordingly.

In focus: Hashgraph, Blockchain and Tangle

In order to look at the DLT more concretely, three versions were examined more closely: Blockchain, Tangle and Hashgraph. These focus on the idea of joint data dominance, whereby the technological development of the DLT refers primarily to a special form of electronic data acceptance and storage. Since the DLT is currently still an “immature technology”, the three mentioned forms still show weaknesses for the application in the context of autonomous passenger cars:

Hashgraph is most unsuitable for the application described here due to the licensing costs and the closed-source software, and blockchain is also unattractive for the required micropayments due to usage-dependent transaction costs and speeds.


Author: Robin Kracht