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Block chain for unmanned vehicles


St. Petersburg’s ITMO University developed algorithms to improve road safety.


St. Petersburg researchers have developed an algorithm for safe operations of unmanned road vehicles. They suggest using block chain technology to monitor road situation and keep unmanned vehicles operations logs. Saint-Petersburg TV Channel reporter Dmitry Kopytov studied the know-how.

A seemingly usual car is in fact one of the smartest vehicles in the world guided by artificial intelligence. It does not need a driver to move. At present, the car is being tested. Experts believe that unmanned vehicles are the key elements of transport system not only in future, but today as well.

Anton Baburov, engineer, developer of safety systems for unmanned cars, is sure: ‘In some five years mass production of unmanned vehicles is to start. Of, course, they won’t be ideal, and won’t be able to drive as a driver, especially as an experienced driver can. But they will be capable of transporting cargo and passengers.’

Dmitry Kopytov: ‘You don’t get a chance to drive in an unmanned car too often. It is convenient to have free hands, you can read a book or make selfies, and don’t have to keep all your attention on the road. Machines work while people rest. Free hands, look!’

The ITMO University has developed a system to log all the history of events for unmanned vehicles using block chain technology. 

Professor Sergey Bezzateyev of the ITMO chair of secure information technologies, tells: ‘Block chain does not allow to make changes to logs already entered. If your car has been scratched, the information when and how it happened and who did it will remain in the log unchanged. Of course, this technology can be used in other spheres, not only for unmanned vehicles.’

Block chain can be implemented for codifying patients’ medical data or for making documents for new property. In fact, it is a digital biography that does not allow of concealing a single fact. ITMO researchers also thought about the anonymity and safety of witnesses to car accidents.

Vadim Davydov, a postgraduate student with ITMO, explains: ‘The witness who signed will not be disclosed. But in some critical cases, like death, we will be able to disclose the witness in court, but anonymity is a legal issue that needs to be solved.’

There are analogues of this system in the world, in countries that are active developing unmanned vehicle technologies like the USA, Switzerland and China. There are unmanned trucks. In Russia, unmanned taxis are being tested. In future, there will be unmanned trains and airplanes. Such automation is expensive, but in future it will allow to save money and prevent accidents due to human factor. 

Photo and video: St. Petersburg TV channel