Vehicles are being engineered and developed to have greater autonomy not only to improve safety on the road, but also enhance productivity and convenience for their human passengers, letting them focus on what is truly important in their lives. Allowing vehicles to make independent financial transactions involved in other settings like parking and fuel or even for cleaning, maintenance or other service repairs in an automated manner would be a natural next step.

Financially autonomous vehicles may figure out ways not only to reduce the cognitive load and save on spending but also to earn for their owners. They may do so in a number of ways: by taking on paying riders, undertaking food and goods delivery jobs, providing energy from their batteries to other cars and devices, offering computation, storage and communication relay capabilities to other vehicles, or by selling valuable data gathered by their internal sensors, without the necessary intervention of a centralized platform. The day may not be far off when financially autonomous vehicles could become secure assets that are “tokenized” using blockchain technology, so that they no longer have a single owner but instead a dynamic collection of shareholders vested in their operation. Just as corporations have their own legal identities today, laws may then evolve to treat each financially autonomous vehicle as a legal entity.

About Bhaskar

Bhaskar Krishnamachari is Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the Director of the Viterbi Center for CPS and IoT at the University of Southern California.

Bhaskar has expertise in designing algorithms and software for the internet of things, connected vehicles, distributed computing, machine learning, and blockchain technologies. He has co-authored more than 300 papers, and 2 textbooks, collectively cited more than 25000 times (per Google Scholar). He has been a co-recipient of several best paper awards including at ACM MobiCom and ACM/IEEE IPSN. He has received the NSF CAREER Award and the ASEE Terman Award for outstanding electrical and computer engineering educators. In 2011, he was listed in MIT technology review magazine’s TR-35 list of top 35 innovators under the age of 35, and in 2015 was named one of Popular Science magazine’s “Brilliant 10”.

USC Viterbi School of Engineering

Founded in 1905, the USC Viterbi School of Engineering is named for Andrew Viterbi who developed an algorithm to connect the world’s citizens. Similarly, the school, located in Los Angeles, a global center for arts, technology and international business in the heart of the Pacific Rim, is a hub for entrepreneurship that connects students from 64 countries.

USC Viterbi is a pioneer in restoring sight to the blind; restoring memory to sufferers of Alzheimer’s; and socially assistive robots to aid seniors with stroke or children with autism. It is the home of the first operational quantum computing center in academia. Our alumni include Neil Armstrong, first human on the moon; A.C. Mike Markkula, co-founder of Apple; and Wanda Austin, former CEO of the Aerospace Corporation.

The USC Viterbi School is consistently ranked in the top 10 graduate programs (U.S. News and World Report). Under the leadership of Dean Yannis C. Yortsos, the school helped re-imagine the 21st century engineer, pioneering the Grand Challenge Scholars Program in schools across the globe. Our mission is to serve California, the nation and the world. At USC Viterbi, we call this the enabling power of Engineering+.