Electric car pays for charging itself via blockchain

Technology News |
By Christoph Hammerschmidt

For some time now, blockchain technologies have made it possible to carry out simple transactions without involving banks or financial services through the use of “smart contracts”. However, the technologies currently available are not yet suitable for mass transactions with high volumes because of the high fees and the long transaction duration. This is where PolyCrypt comes in with its Perun project: The company develops powerful blockchain systems that can process significantly more transactions quickly and cheaply. Not only humans, but also networked things are to be enabled to exchange information and conclude contracts with each other. For example, an electric car could soon pay for itself at the charging station, without the driver behind the wheel having to do anything. What started as a research project at the Technical University of Darmstadt under the direction of Prof. Sebastian Faust, head of the Department of Applied Cryptography, led to the successful founding of the start-up PolyCrypt in November last year.

An example from the field of electric mobility explains how Perun works:  When the demand for electric cars increases, energy suppliers have to create incentives for the customer not to charge all the e-cars at the same time in order to avoid overloading the electricity grid. This can work, for example, through financial offers. With the help of the Perun solution, a car manufacturer could, for example, encourage its end customer to charge the car at night via a discount campaign. PolyCrypt has developed software for this purpose, with which a transaction between the customer and the car manufacturer can be processed simply. “The Perun software is based on blockchain, a technology that underlies cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and enables transactions between different participants in a blockchain network in the form of smart contracts”, explains Hendrik Amler, CEO of PolyCrypt. “These automated contracts could now ensure that the owner of an electric car is credited a certain amount for charging the car outside of peak hours.”

The Perun solution is scalable and could enable 10,000 transactions per second between two partners. In its implementation, it is cost-effective because the transactions carried out can be processed without the blockchain and thus without the legal verification. However, if there is a disagreement between two parties in the payment process, the software automatically resorts to using the blockchain. The previous blockchain solutions always also take on the function of a court during the transaction between two parties in order to prevent abusive payment transactions. However, this is just as expensive in legal implementation as in real life. With the help of the Perun solution, considerable costs can be saved.

The technology also offers many possibilities to mediate directly between companies, automate manual processes and at the same time increase IT security and data protection. In the future, networked things should also be able to exchange information with each other independently in secure ecosystems and be able to conclude contracts.

In carrying out the project, PolyCrypt was supported by the German federal government through the StartUpSecure funding programme. In funding phase I, the financial support made it possible to build up a team, develop the basic technology and cooperate with renowned partners such as Bosch and Telekom AG. With the help of the funding phase II, which is now beginning, the product will be further developed and transferred to the economy by means of pioneer projects with established companies to test the market potential.

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