Daimler wants your truck to be a wallet-on-wheels

Daimler is working on a pilot project to give trucks a digital ID that can be used to identify them and pay for services

Credit: Daimler

Daimler is working on a digital Truck-ID and an associated ‘Truck Wallet’, with its first use case an automatic payment at an electric charging station.

Daimler’s big idea is to smooth the process of trucking and its associated workload by automating a variety of functions through an onboard electronic identifying system.

Trucks can identify themselves to other machines using their Truck-ID as if they had their own integrated ID card and can thus provide a unique signature for specific processes.

Truck-ID and Truck Wallet – both currently still in the prototype phase – are stored as encrypted software programs within a cryptographic processor. The electronic information, which also includes any cash added, is stored directly in the Truck Wallet and can then be transferred to other machines by means of a Wi-Fi connection. The processor is part of the Truck Data Center, the central telematics control unit of the new Mercedes-Benz Actros. This keeps the ID and assigns it to an individual truck alongside the telematics data, such as location.

Blockchain platform from Commerzbank underpins payments

Daimler is working with Commerzbank and its "main incubator" research and development unit. Commerzbank is supplying a derivative of its Corda system, which is an established blockchain platform technology for transactions. As part of the payments process, real money in digital, encrypted form is added to the Truck Wallet of the truck system in the form of e-euros. After a payment is made by the Truck Wallet, the money is uniquely identifiable thanks to the Truck-ID and is then transferred to the recipient.

The recipient can then request Commerzbank to transfer this e-money back to its own account. The transaction is validated and stored online by Corda. In this way, the truck owner can trace whether one of its vehicles has made a payment.

Most varied of applications imaginable

Daimler envisages a variety of uses for Truck-ID and Truck Wallet, including:

  • Processing of truck tolls. Truck drivers must currently manually enter data in the toll system, whereby errors can occur. It would be possible to use this new technology so the truck directly provides the toll system with the data with a unique signature by means of a Wi-Fi connection.
  • Processing freight papers: The truck carries the freight papers digitally and signs these when it arrives at the destination and receives an appropriate confirmation for the receipt of the goods from the system there.
  • Controlling and billing of subcontractors: If a technological counterpart could be installed, such as a smartphone with an appropriate app that is able to communicate with the Truck Wallet, then the truck could act as a conduit for recording and processing.
  • Even processing of vehicle leasing and short-term use contracts (e.g. "pay-per-use") can be controlled directly from the truck itself: customers pay directly at the vehicle and the truck decides for itself whether the required conditions for operational readiness are fulfilled.

Autonomous interaction between trucks and other machines

Dr Helge Königs, head of the Truck Wallet project at Daimler Trucks: "With Truck-ID and Truck Wallet, we have laid the foundation for autonomous interaction between trucks and other machines – a true technological milestone. Our aim is that, in future, trucks will be able to act on their own behalf in various fields of application. Drivers can then concentrate more on their actual driving tasks and haulage firms benefit from a significant reduction in administration work and more secure processes. This renders it practically impossible to carry out such things as fuel card scams whereby criminals copy a fuel card and spy on the PIN number being entered. Also in terms of highly automated trucks, our prototypes show the direction in which such further developments can go."

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