James Blackman •  April 25, 2019 •

The city of Reno, in Nevada, is using blockchain technology to validate data communications between autonomous vehicles and street infrastructure.

The University of Nevada and Reno’s Center for Applied Research (NCAR) have teamed up with local blockchain company Filament on the vehicle-to-everything (V2X) trial, which its collaborators claims is the first to put LIDAR data on a blockchain in a public setting.

The project forms part of Reno’s Intelligent Mobility initiative, managed by NCAR.

The trial system will enable secure data exchange with access control and identity management between vehicles and street-side infrastructure. It is designed to improve safety and communication between connected vehicles and road infrastructure with LIDAR and dedicated short-range communications (DSRC) devices mounted at intersections.

Carlos Cardillo, director at NCAR, said: “The growth in the number of connected vehicles on roads will lead to an increase in the number of IoT devices, which can potentially create vulnerabilities.”

He said the project will validate secured data from the connected LIDAR devices, including those in autonomous vehicles. “We believe this can result in a new set of data integrity standards that others can follow when rolling out their own initiatives,” he said. 

The University of Nevada is to start simulated testing of Filament’s Blocklet technology, with plans to integrate the technology into vehicles and road infrastructure on defined routes in the city.

Test vehicles will accept only Blocklet-attested data transmissions, protecting them from potential bad actors or man-in-the-middle attacks, said Filament.

Allison Clift-Jennings, choief executive at Filament, commented: “This is important for all cities as it will demonstrate how secure distributed ledger technology combined with connected, driverless cars and their surroundings can become a trusted reality… With the data recorded on a blockchain, the shared root of trust is established for transparent exchange and transactions.”

The project is expected to complete in the first half of 2019.

Reno’s Intelligent Mobility programme, supported by the state governor’s office of economic development and the University of Nevada, is testing a number of mobility concepts at the same time.

The state is hosting a ‘living labs’ programme fore researchers and partners to test and develop systems in which vehicles sense their environment and communicate with other vehicles, infrastructure and people. It is utilising a fibre / microwave network and high performance computing to analyse the positioning and orientation of subject traffic and coordination of traffic control systems.

Filament builds blockchain systems for the enterprise and the industrial IoT space.