Data is the New Oil — How the Partnership between ITIC and IOTA Foundation builds the bridge between simulated and physical vehicles and infrastructure

“Data is the new oil”. For many years the automotive industry has leveraged data and computational advancements to not only design cars, but to perform simulated testing in an effort to increase safety, lower costs and shrink design cycles.

As we advance into the future of automated vehicles, the customer value of a vehicle will increasingly shift from physical product features to services based on machine-based intelligence.

High quality, rich data is the foundation on which machine learning models are built. As we enter the era of autonomous, robotic systems powered by machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) it becomes clear: Just like we are building cars using a complex physical supply network that delivers high quality steel and carbon-based chassis and powertrain modules, we need high quality data from a variety of trusted sources to train machine-learning system models. We use data to build cars. We build AI with data.

The more high quality data we have at our disposal, the faster we can advance towards a new era of mobility. That is why the partnership between the IOTA Foundation and the International Transportation Innovation Center (ITIC) is so exciting. ITIC has both open and closed test beds and is forming a global alliance of test beds to foster collaboration and accelerate innovation.

Test beds for connected, autonomous vehicles (CAV) and electric vehicles (EV) play a critical role in advancing robotic vehicles from research into the real world. In order to ensure autonomous vehicles deliver on the promise of increased road safety, better traffic flow and improved environmental sustainability, rigorous testing must be performed in controlled, cyber-physical test environments. The best practice is to combine physical testing with simulated testing as well as augmented testing. Complex simulations can scale physical testing and explore scenarios and understand risks before systems are piloted and eventually deployed in the real world.

Data is the foundation to build such models. Data collected through research fleets and real-world models of the environment form the basis for advanced simulations. Most of this data is locked away in proprietary corporate siloes. As part of the collaboration with ITIC, we explore the use of the IOTA Data Marketplace as a way for the various partners in the test bed alliance to share and contribute their data to a distributed data lake resulting in a richer data set to accelerate and advance machine learning towards safer and more sustainable mobility.

The IOTA tangle will provide critical capabilities in this environment, all the way from establishing trust in an open permission-less network to ensuring the integrity of data through the immutability of the distributed ledger. But the IOTA protocol will also enable test bed participants to maintain control over their data and provide the ability to monetize it. In a similar vein, participants will be able to purchase data to augment and enrich their own data sets. Data wants to be “free”, but it should not be free. Through collaboration and data sharing, we can accomplish more faster.

Besides advancing research and testing for CAVs and EVs, a key area of exploration is also the governance and business model implications of CAVs enabled by the IOTA tangle. We believe that autonomous vehicles will usher the era of robotic taxis that will transform how we think about business models not only in automotive, but across the emerging ecosystem of mobility and transportation. Autonomous robotic taxis may have profound cost advantages over traditional car ownership leading to large-scale on-demand, shared mobility services. What happens when driverless cars become their own economic agents that exchange data and engage in transactions without human intervention?

Driverless cars will lead to new ways of monetizing the time passengers spend in such vehicles. Once again data plays a critical role. Who should “own” and control what data? How do we unleash the power of data whilst protecting privacy and individual freedom? How can we ensure that we all — as individuals, businesses, economies, societies and nations — equally benefit from the value of data?

Both autonomous vehicles and distributed ledger technologies still face a range of regulatory uncertainties. Data has a crucial role in informing policies and regulations. In view of autonomous robotic vehicles, the role of regulators shifts dramatically from mitigating the impact of accidents through passive safety systems towards regulating the use of machine learning and AI in robotic vehicles. How do we ensure road safety in a world of driverless cars and who will be liable for autonomous vehicles, especially given that machine learning models using deep learning are “black boxes” with logic that continuously evolves?

The future of mobility will also require informed infrastructure investments and policy setting. Is there a risk that autonomous vehicles lead to more traffic congestion or cannibalize public transportation? How might a “true” peer-to-peer sharing economy without central intermediaries work? How do we collect taxes and ensure all systems follow regulatory and safety standards? What is emergent behavior in the machine-to-machine economy and how do we create the right incentives to achieve optimal outcomes that satisfy the interests of all stakeholders? Simulations and testing using large data sets of high quality data will be crucial in this endeavor.

There is also an urgent need to open up the dialogue with the broader public. The test bed alongside the simulated testing environment is also way to have non-technical people experience and grasp the technology, be it autonomous driving systems, electric vehicles or distributed leger technologies. People can best grasp the power of technologies such as inductive charging when they can both touch and feel the physical infrastructure and assets, but also experience how the tangle enables secure machine-to-machine micro-transactions. That is why we will collaborate closely between ITIC and the IOTA Foundation to bring the technology to events where humans can be informed, inspired and engaged in the co-creation of our joint future.

The future of mobility we envision is based on a truly open, shared fabric that ties together the various actors in a symbiotic ecosystem. IOTA is not owned and controlled by any one entity. IOTA establishes trust in an open, permission less system and enables secure data sharing and monetary exchange. As the backbone of the Internet of Things, IOTA has the potential to become the biggest repository of trusted, high quality data to power artificial intelligence and the emerging machine-to-machine economy. Oil is a finite resource. But data and its potential value is infinite.

Data is not just the new oil. We build the future with data. A future that creates opportunities for all based on infinite opportunities.