It’s not a stretch to imagine that an autonomous vehicle is going to need to have autonomy. ZF is imaging a future where the car is able to pay for goods and services on its own.
To imagine a world where the car requires autonomy, think of when your autonomous car drops you off at the restaurant and heads off to find a parking spot. When it finds the spot it’s going to need to be able to pay for parking on its own. Wireless charging for vehicles will become mainstream one day and when it does and your car pops on to a pad for a top up, it will need to be able to pay for the power.
The Car eWallet solution will allow the car to pass through tolls, pay for parking and charging. Currently, the interface to see the transactions appears on a mobile phone, but in the future, the solution can be integrated directly into the car itself.
For ZF, who is a traditional German automotive supplier, this is a significant move towards digital. Though the eWallet platform is hardware driven the concept of enabling goods and services is a far removed from what ZF is known for best, its safety systems and fast shifting transmissions.
The car eWallet is a financial service offered with collaboration with IBM and UBS. IBM developed the underlying blockchain technology. It is important to have a decentralized ledger for transactions makes it difficult to tamper with the data since the information isn’t kept in a single location. More importantly, it is a system that won’t influence the automotive industry like having a closed payment solution from Apple or Android. Allowing a single company to dominate would influence the direction and growth of the ecosystem.
Initially, the payment system will come preloaded on ZF’s ProAI computing system for self-driving cars, as a way to differentiate the product.
Autonomous cars are hitting the streets but their integration into our day to day lives is further away than I would like. Base technologies like the Car eWallet are a necessary step in giving vehicles the autonomy they’ll need to enter into our lives with more utility and purpose.