Automotive giant Ford has been granted a patent dubbed “Vehicle-to-vehicle cooperation to marshal traffic” with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, in which cars will reportedly make use of cryptocurrency transactions to communicate with each other and cut down traffic.
The technology Ford plans to use is called Cooperatively Managed Merge and Pass (CMMP). Conversely, while companies like Ford are joining the crypto bandwagon, modern-day electric vehicles pioneer Tesla has been paying little attention to the potentially groundbreaking technology.
The American-headquartered automaker filed the patent in 2016, which has now been granted to its subsidiary Ford Global Technologies.
The CMMP is a “token-endorsed technology” which works as a vehicle-to-vehicle communication platform. Basically, with enabled GPS and platform participants, cars can share information about traffic with other vehicles. Moreover, the system will also observe and record driver’s actions. According to the patent:
“This system would temporarily allow for particular cooperative vehicles (sometimes referred to as ‘consumer vehicles’) to drive at higher speeds in less-occupied lanes of traffic and also to merge and pass freely when needed. Other participating cooperative vehicles (sometimes referred to as ‘merchant vehicles’) voluntarily occupy slower lanes of traffic to [facilitate] the consumer vehicle to merge into their lanes and pass as needed.”
Merchant vehicles would receive CCMP tokens in return for facilitating consumer vehicles’ faster movement. The price is set based on the demand of the consumer vehicle. In essence, the CCMP system rewards those who choose slower lanes and sell their time.
The patent also states: “The CMMP tokens are used to validate and authorize a transaction in which, at consumer vehicle request, the merchant vehicles either occupy slower lanes of traffic themselves or allow the consumer vehicle to merge into their own lane and pass as necessary. The participating merchant vehicles gain CMMP tokens from the consumer vehicle.”
However, Ford does not describe how this system would disincentivize would-be merchants from extorting buyers by clogging up lanes and only allowing passage after payment.
The project seems to fall into the same basket as crypto startups — i.e: attempting to engineer a token-based incentive solution to solve a real-world problem. As such it also faces the same economic risks, such as perverse incentives, unintended uses, and unforeseen circumstances.
However, with the Michigan-based automaker in the game, things could develop well. A project that involves mass participation requires a degree of cooperation with several car industry manufacturers. The project could prosper directly with some end users’ participation, but for it to have an impact on congested traffic networks, participation from other automakers is a must.
Ford Motor Company has also planned to invest $11 billion USD in electric vehicles by 2022, giving direct competition to Tesla. The electric automaker has shown no interest in cryptocurrencies or blockchain technology.
Lately, German auto giant Volkswagen also disclosed its plan to embrace IOTA technology, in another attempt to transform the automobile industry. Luxury automobile manufacturer Porsche also partnered with German blockchain technology startup – XAIN to pilot the technology directly inside the vehicle. Toyota has also partnered with blockchain startup projects. Does Tesla know something about blockchain the others don’t? Or is it missing out on a potentially disruptive technology?
Is Ford’s patent technology feasible in the real world? Let us know your views in the comments section.
Images via Ford