The Toyota Research Institute, the automaker's U.S.-based innovation lab, and MIT's Media Lab are collaborating on a proof of concept for blockchain technology in usage-based insurance.

The overarching goal of the project, which will offer two other proofs of concept specific to the automotive industry, is to use current drivers' data to inform the development of autonomous vehicles. Blockchain's distributed-ledger technology ensures security and ownership rights over the driving data are protected, according to project representatives.

“Hundreds of billions of miles of human driving data may be needed to develop safe and reliable autonomous vehicles,” said Chris Ballinger, director of mobility services and chief financial officer at the Toyota Research Institute (TRI). “Blockchains and distributed ledgers may enable pooling data from vehicle owners, fleet managers, and manufacturers to shorten the time for reaching this goal, thereby bringing forward the safety, efficiency and convenience benefits of autonomous driving technology.”

Specifically for usage-based insurance, TRI says that "by allowing the vehicle’s sensors to collect driving data and store it in a blockchain, vehicle owners may be eligible to further lower their insurance costs by giving their insurance companies increased transparency to reduce fraud plus granting them access to driving data to measure safe driving habits."

Another Toyota subsidiary, Toyota Insurance Management Solutions (TIMS), is working with the blockchain startup Gem on the UBI product, TRI also announced. TIMS launched last year in partnership with Aioi Nissay Dowa Insurance to engage with TRI on projects like these.

The other proofs of concept TRI and MIT will produce are around ridesharing and testing autonomous vehicles. Other blockchain-company partners include BigchainDB, Oaken Innovations and Commuterz.

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