Data reliability is key to realize future mobility services -Why DENSO is investigating on the blockchain platform?-

On September 2, 2021, DENSO Tech Links Tokyo #12, an event organized by DENSO Corporation, was held as a webinar. How will blockchains change our lives? Yawen Huang explains the details of a blockchain platform, which DENSO, an automotive module manufacturer, is using to develop future mobility services.

Nov. 19, 2021

Yawen Huang
Information Traceability Dev. Sect., Solution Planning for Smart City Dept.,
DENSO Corporation

Consortium Blockchains

Yawen Huang: Good evening. I’m Yawen Huang. Before starting, let me introduce myself briefly.

I am from Taiwan. I loved Doraemon as a child. This is why I developed an interest in Japan. I came to Japan to study in 2004, and joined DENSO three years ago. At present, I am working for R&D on virtual simulation technologies and blockchain platforms. Today, I’ll explain the development of our blockchain platform.

First, I will introduce consortium blockchains. With the advancement of computer technologies, cars, which are a means of mobility, have been increasingly regarded as IoT devices. Various services will be automated by using in-vehicle computers and sensors to make people’s lives more convenient.

For example, usage-based insurance (UBI) will be calculated based on the data of actual mileage and driving habits. Parking fees and fuel costs will be paid automatically. Data reliability is the key to achieve autonomous transactions between vehicles and various stakeholders. The future mobility services envisioned by DENSO will ensure this reliability based on a blockchain platform.

DENSO’s Blockchain Platform

Next, I will explain DENSO’s blockchain platform. This figure shows the architecture of DENSO’s trusted platform based on the blockchain technologies. The system is divided into different layers by functionality. There are three main areas: the open software area, which includes blockchains and cloud services; the core area, which offers various functions; and the customer area, which offers services.

The scope of DENSO’s blockchain platform, which underpins various services, is from Layer 1.0 to Layer 2.5. Today, I will focus on Layer 1.0, namely, the blockchain platform, and Layer 1.5, namely, platform optimization.

Utilization of Open Source Software

Let me start with utilization of open source software. DENSO’s platform utilizes open source blockchains and cutting-edge technologies to increase the development efficiency. We conducted a broad survey in order to use appropriate blockchains. Regarding the criteria for selecting which blockchains to be surveyed, we took into account the penetration rate of the respective platforms and applicability to DENSO’s blockchain platform.

There are three types of blockchain sorted by the participation from. "Public Blockchain" is open for all the participants to join. "Private Blockchain" is for company's internal or individual's private usage. "Consortium Blockchain" is for inter-company collaboration. Public Blockchain and Consortium Blockchain meet DENSO's business models.

For public blockchains, we selected Ethereum due to its applicability to fields other than virtual currency. For consortium blockchains, we selected “Corda,” “Hyperledger Fabric,” and “Quorum” due to their penetration rate and “Hyperledger Iroha,” which was developed in Japan.

This slide outlines the blockchains we selected. These blockchains are applicable to different fields, so we surveyed and verified their performance and identified platforms that are suitable for our usage from an overall viewpoint.

First, we compared their functionality and performance and found that Quorum and Hyperledger Fabric had excellent overall performance for our usage.

We also implemented all the selected platforms and verified their performance to determine the capability of respective blockchains and identified issues that were likely to arise during operation. This process helped us accumulate expertise in-house.

Examples of Optimization of DENSO’s Blockchain Platform

Next, I will introduce two examples of optimizing DENSO’s blockchain platform. First, when car insurance is used to repair a car that has been in an accident, the repair record issued by the repair shop and changes in appearance of the vehicle are important information for an insurance company. The data reliability can be assured by storing the data in blockchains.

However, those data such as PDF and image data files are large, and accumulating such data in blockchains would overload the system and cause it to fail. Calculating the hash value from each data and to store only hash values makes tempering detectable and makes the system lightweight at the same time.

Let me give you the second example. If mobility services and the number of concurrent system users were to increase beyond expectation, there would not be enough computing resources and the system would fail. We classified the processes so that high-priority processes are executed first and computing resources are allocated properly.

DENSO’s Blockchain Platform in the Future

Finally, I will explain our future vision. We have been working to optimize DENSO’s blockchain platform and expand its functionality. In terms of platform optimization, we have been improving scalability Instead of connecting all vehicles to the cloud directly, we use vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication for grouping the nearby vehicles. Those groups work as side-chain and connect to the main-chain on the cloud. This method can minimize the load on the large-scaled system.

In terms of functionality expansion, we have been building evidence system and interoperability. An evidence system aims to assure data reliability before the data is stored in blockchains. Interoperability refers to the functionality to perform transactions with other blockchains.

We will continue to improve DENSO’s blockchain platform, but we lack enough manpower. We’re hiring! Please join us to help create a platform for mobility in the future. Thank you very much.