The autonomous taxi of the future

The rise of autonomous cars

The futuristic idea of autonomous cars has been around for a long time: experiments with forms of autonomous cars have been going on since 1925. In 1956, the idea of being driven around by a self-driving car was popularized by an America’s Power Companies advertisement . While driving, occupants could relax with other activities, such as a family board game. The car would move by means of electronic devices in an “electric super-highway”, completely safe and without traffic jams. The idea was there, but the technology was not there yet.

About 60 years later and autonomous cars seem to be becoming a reality with the rise of artificial intelligence. Google started developing a self-driving car in 2009. Since then, all major car manufacturers have indicated that they are developing self-driving cars to a greater or lesser extent. Elon Musk, co-founder and CEO of Tesla, indicated in a recent interview that within two years it should be possible to fall asleep behind the wheel and wake up at the destination.

So autonomous cars will be driving our streets in the not-too-distant future. An idea that people played with almost a century ago finally becomes reality. What is the next step in the development of autonomous vehicles and what does Bitcoin have to do with it?

Machines that make payments with Bitcoin

Bitcoin transactions are peer-to-peer , i.e. transactions take place directly between two people. In addition, bitcoins are managed locally: simply put, they are stored on a phone or computer in a Bitcoin wallet. As a result, the value transfer that takes place during a bitcoin transaction does not differ much from, for example, physically handing over a piece of gold, but then digitally.

A Bitcoin wallet is a piece of software that can also be managed by a computer. The private keys that give access to the bitcoins in a wallet can be used by the computer to create and send transactions. The entire process is programmable: no input from a human user is required and no confirmation from a third party, such as a bank.

Due to the programmability and peer-to-peer nature of bitcoin transactions, payments can take place not only between individuals, but also between a person and a computer or between two computers. In this way, machines are able to manage money themselves and make payments to each other. What opportunities will arise when we give autonomous cars the ability to manage bitcoins themselves?

The autonomous taxi of the future

In addition to operating independently on public roads, an autonomous car with a Bitcoin wallet will also be able to autonomously manage money. The autonomous car will be used as a taxi, which can be called to your location via an app. The autonomous taxi of the future does not have a human driver, so payments will have to be made digitally to the car. With Bitcoin, a customer can make a bitcoin payment directly to the car for the ride that is taken, after which the car itself owns the bitcoins.

Now that the taxi has the autonomy to drive around and receive payments, the taxi can also carry out transactions independently. This allows the car to take control of simple tasks such as fueling and maintenance. In the future, most cars will probably be electric and will be able to connect themselves to a charging point. Because a car itself owns bitcoins, it can, for example, drive to a charging station in time to be charged and independently make a payment at the charging station, completely without human intervention.

A modern car can also recognize when maintenance is required and report to a garage, indicate which maintenance needs to be carried out and order it to be carried out. Then, when the car recognizes that the service has been completed, the car can pay the garage for the work done and then hit the road again to the next customer.

In this way, a taxi becomes a fully autonomous agent and can operate independently 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Someone will have to take the car onto the road, but after that the car can operate completely independently. The taxi can “own” itself and do business with the profit made: for example, by purchasing a second car to add it to the autonomous taxi fleet.

While it is clear that various applications of artificial intelligence will play a major role in this, people are often still uncertain what role Bitcoin will play in the future . The application as described in this article is one of many where peer-to-peer payments and machine payments can provide an extra innovation step.

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