Recently, The risky arms of corporate giants Volvo and Total invested in the blockchain tracking company Circulor, which helps reduce child labor in Africa and wants to work with Tesla, GM and Ford.
Volvo had tested the Circulor platform for over a year before investing in the low-risk arm. The startup helped the automaker to check the origin of the cobalt used in its batteries. Like many other raw materials, cobalt is not always of ethical origin. Circulor also traces the origins of another important automotive raw material, mica, which is used for insulation.
Buying mica from Madagascar or Russia?
Doug Johnson-Poensgen, CEO of Circulor, discussed these issues with Cointelegraph:
“The problem with mica is that, like cobalt, there are a number of problems related to child labor procurement, this time in Madagascar. Therefore, the mica of responsible origin comes from places like Russia, where we chase it. However, there are much cheaper things from Madagascar that the children have unearthed in appalling working conditions. And of course these are unacceptable risks for a responsible car manufacturer. “
The investment will help Circulor improve its machine learning algorithms. The company tries to train him so that he can differentiate between children and adults. Then you can use aerial photographs to determine whether a company has children in the mining industry.
Electric cars have a higher carbon footprint
Another important use case for Circulor is tracking the carbon footprint of automotive manufacturing throughout the supply chain.. Ironically, according to Johnson, an electric car manufacturer’s carbon footprint is much larger than that of a fuel, and the battery makes up more than half:
“Of course, the carbon footprint between a normal car and an electric vehicle is the same. However, the purpose of trying to assign carbon is to enable the automaker to be better involved in the supply chain so that it can be used sustainably along with price and quality. For this reason, the Volvo press release is also about CO2, as it starts with a chain of material storage. “
Bias against public blockchains
After Circular originally developed his solution for Ethereum (ETH) as a prototype, he switched to Hyperledger Fabric. Johnson explains that the change was made at least in part because of corporate prejudices against public blockchains:
“”Part of the reason we chose a privately licensed blockchain was because of the prejudices of our target customers, who are not used to transparency in supply chains and who have to take into account the commercial sensitivities in their relationship with their customers. And many of the leads we spoke to about two and a half years ago simply haven’t seen how a public blockchain can be configured to keep its business secret. “
He admits that many of the first generation solutions will have to be converted into public blockchains in the coming years. And even when using licensed blockchains, Johnson believes interoperability is key, as not a single solution will prevail in the auto industry.
Expansion to Tesla, Ford and GM
When asked whether Circulor plans to expand its customers to Tesla, Ford or GM, Johnson replied:
“”The short answer is: All of that is yes, we have it. So the automakers you just mentioned are buying batteries of the type that we work with. We are in the process of involving other battery manufacturers. And we have several battery factories that have contacted us because they know about our work. “
With the world’s growing awareness of manufacturing ethical dilemmas, Tesla has become the world’s most valuable automaker.