A new patent awarded to Ford suggests the U.S. automaker is considering the use of cryptocurrency to let cars on the road communicate with each other and reduce traffic.
The patent - "Vehicle-to-vehicle cooperation to marshal traffic" - was published Tuesday and awarded to Ford Global Technologies, LLC. It focuses on ways to alleviate traffic congestion, proposing that communication to coordinate speeds between vehicles can counteract, in part, "the psychology of human drivers who focus on their individual travel time preferences."
The document published Tuesday details a "Cooperatively Managed Merge and Pass (CMMP) system" in which "driving behavior is monitored, recorded, and evaluated in a collective manner by themselves and other participating vehicles."
The application goes on to explain:
"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 [allow] the consumer vehicle to merge into their lanes and pass as needed."
Notably, it outlines how a kind of cryptocurrency called CMMP tokens could be used to facilitate the messages between vehicles, stating:
"The CMMP system operates with individual token-based transactions, where the merchant vehicles and the consumers' vehicles agree to trade units of cryptocurrency (sometimes referred to as 'CMMP tokens'). The CMMP tokens are used to validate and authorize a transaction in which, at consumer vehicles' 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."
Additionally, the token payments would be used as a kind of on-the-road credit within the proposed system.
"In some examples, the time allotted to the request of the consumer vehicle is based on the number of CMMP tokens chosen by the consumer vehicle to be spent at that particular time," the patent document states. "For example, a driver of a consumer vehicle which is running late for an appointment may request to pass any participating merchant vehicles for a duration of 10 minutes on a particular road or highway for 60 CMMP tokens, at a rate of 10 seconds preferential access per token."
Though the automaker hasn't revealed much about its work with blockchain to date, a job posting from last year indicated that the company was looking to develop some in-house expertise on the subject.
"We are looking for a strategic thinker and researcher to lead and pioneer work in the branch of Blockchain technology applied to mobility use cases that would help deliver superior user experiences for our customers," the company wrote at the time, as reported by Trustnodes. The listing, as of press time, is no longer available.
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