Smart cars and blockchain technology are two of the world’s most innovative and futuristic tech concepts. The two were used side-by-side this year when a car charging station which accepted payments in form of IOTA was opened.
After months of use and positive feedback, the concept seems ready to be deployed on a wider scale.
The station was first opened on the 18th of April in the Netherlands by the State Secretary for Infrastructure and Water Management, Stientje van Veldhoven. The station, called ElaadNL, features a variety of charging options, including a charging island and the IOTA charger.
Perhaps the most interesting part of this new charging method is the use of the IOTA charger – running on the network’s innovative Tangle protocol – which has never been used before.
The system works through an open source protocol which enables Machine-to-Machine (M2M) that lets payment take place instantly with no added fees. This creates an ease of transaction not previously heard of.
According to Harm van den Brink, an IT Architect at ElaadNL, “No back office and no communication protocol are required to operate the charging station; the transactions are exchanged directly without the use of a charge card or subscription’’
It should be noted, however, that IOTA recently announced that it would be ditching its current coordinator, a move that could impact future IOTA-backed projects such as this one.
The stations work very differently from traditional ones in that no one needs to operate it; it works independently and interacts with customers directly.
Every 15 minutes, the ledger of transactions is updated to ensure efficient record-keeping.
“The charge station has been tested multiple times with the special hardware (mini-Tesla) we built. We are currently busy implementing a QR-code display, so everybody can directly pay and charge,” says van den Brink.
There are plans to expand on the use of the station to include other types of cars but for now, it is still in its early stages.
“We are very pleased to see that this can work, even in a real machine-to-machine way. However, the software/hardware is still very experimental, and thus not ready for upscaling – in my opinion,” he adds.
While the stations aren’t quite ready for a wide variety of cars, there are plans to incorporate IOTA technology to enable the sharing of more vital information such as transformer load capacity.
“The transformer can ask connected devices to do smart charging, and if they listen to that they will get incentivized directly by sending them IOTA tokens. This will also be a proof of concept, and we expect results by the end of this year,” reveals van den Brink.