Blockchain technology has proven that there are no boundaries to its application
as it continues to disrupt diverse industries. The electric vehicle (EV) industry is one that has yet to fully experience the benefits of integrating blockchain technology. However, this is gradually changing, with the electric vehicle industry recognizing the benefits that accrue from integrating blockchain technology.
In a recent study by researchers from the University of Waterloo, the impact of blockchain to the EV industry was highlighted better than ever before. The researchers studied how blockchain can be used to solve the challenges that face the vehicle charging systems. With EVs becoming more common across the globe, EV-charging services providers have sprung up seeking to capitalize on the new opportunity. However, since they can’t set up their own structures everywhere, they partner with property owners and then get to share the profits generated by the venture.
In their study, the researchers identified lack of trust as one of the key impediments to the success of such relationships. The EV owners have no way of knowing if they are being overcharged for the service, while the property owners have no way of knowing if they are being underpaid. Christian Gorenflo, a PhD candidate at Waterloo explained, “Energy services are increasingly being provided by entities that do not have well-established trust relationships with their customers and partners. In this context, blockchains are a promising approach for replacing a central trusted party, for example, making it possible to implement direct peer-to-peer energy trading.”
The researchers further identified the critical steps necessary to incorporate blockchain technology into the EV industry. The first is identifying the level of trust between the involved parties. The trust level should be recognized as a significant impediment if it limits the success of the endeavor. The parties must then design a blockchain system, based on smart contracts that can solve the issue of trust. In cases where the existing systems need to be replaced by blockchain systems, the new system must be designed to closely resemble the existing interfaces. This makes it easier for the users to migrate into the blockchain system gradually.
“Mitigating trust issues in EV charging could result in people who have charging stations, and even those who just have an outdoor outlet, being much more willing to team up with an EV charging service provider resulting in much better coverage of charging stations,” Gorenflo said. The transformation is already happening, with such initiatives as Share&Charge relying on distributed ledger technology to build a resilient and highly efficient network in the EV community. Share&Charge’s Open Charging Network is a decentralized network where every participant gets to run an Open Charging Network Client which creates a decentralized messaging system for authorization, communication and data sharing.
Blockchain technology will also go beyond just the EV charging to disrupt the Internet of Things (IoT), an important facet in the EV industry. Blockchain will enable the vehicles to communicate autonomously with the charging stations and with other EVs as well, ensuring a seamless ride for the owner. Gorenflo remarked, “In the end, we could even have a system where there is machine-to-machine communication rather than people-to-machine. If an autonomous vehicle needs power, it could detect that and drive to the nearest charging station and communicate on a platform with that charging station for the power.”
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