“There is no central administrator to approve the transactions, no middle man linking the participants of the network (e.g. a charging station a with a vehicle),” said John Frazer, DAV chief communications officer in an email. “Instead, it is the vehicles that communicate with charging stations or other infrastructure providers. Or, if several companies have their own fleets of ride-hailing vehicles, they can use the infrastructure on the network without interfering with each other. This is beneficial for the vehicle providers, as they no longer need to develop their own infrastructure for the fleet, but can rather join the network and use the services that already exist within the network.”
The secret sauce of the Switzerland-based non-profit’s efforts is building the DAV Network using blockchain technology. Think of blockchain as a sort of Wikipedia of transactions where instead of a series of transactions all being maintained and managed by a single financial institution, participants in those transactions maintain their own records, communicating directly with each other. Blockchain first came into consciousness as the platform for cryptocurrency Bitcoin. DAV’s crypto coin of the realm is called DAV Token.
In July the DAV Foundation took a big step forward by joining the non-profit consortium Mobility Open Blockchain Initiative (MOBI) which already has among its members automakers such as General Motors, Ford Motor Co., BMW and Groupe Renault along with major suppliers that include Bosch and Denso.
In a joint-statement Tal Ater, CTO and co-founder of the DAV Foundation said, “Decentralization is the key to the future of transportation, globally. MOBI has a fantastic network covering a range of expertise that is going to make this a reality.”
Chris Ballinger, CEO of MOBI commented, “Our approach is open and inclusive and we welcome stakeholders from across the mobility value chain to help build our network. We want to inspire a rapid and scalable adoption of technologies by companies in the autonomous and mobility space and the partnership with the DAV Foundation will help drive this.”
Australian shipping and logistics company, Slipstream Advantage joined the DAV Network in June.
Along with playing aggressive offense in furthering commerce within the AV industry, DAV’s John Frazer admits the strategy includes a fair amount of defense as well, saying, “The implementation of a decentralized network is a vital step towards making sure that Tesla, Uber, or any other single entity does not control the growing Internet of Transportation. The industry is already becoming too big for such an old fashioned vertical integration model to have much hope of succeeding, but in order for it to expand even faster, a decentralized network is needed to encourage smaller scale companies and developers to integrate their solutions into a greater whole.”
As expected, there is some degree of skepticism about blockchain. Writing for the website Project Syndicate, Nouriel Roubini, a professor at NYU’s Stern School of Business and CEO of Roubini Macro Associates, Senior Economist for International Affairs in the White House’s Council of Economic Advisers during the Clinton Administration, and Preston Byrne, a Fellow of the Adam Smith Institute and Sole Member at Tomram Consulting, take issue with all the hosannas blockchain has enjoyed. The two economists writing, “In reality, blockchain is one of the most overhyped technologies ever. For starters, blockchains are less efficient than existing databases. When someone says they are running something ‘on a blockchain’ what they usually mean is that they are running one instance of a software application that is replicated across many other devices.”
But the DAV team firmly believes their blockchain model provides the type of streamlined B2B and peer-to-peer mechanism for commerce that will reduce costly duplication of efforts, transactions slowed by third parties and entree’ for smaller, less capitalized companies into the growing autonomous vehicle industry.