The company wants to use blockchain and distributed-ledger tech for sharing driving data and performing ride/car-sharing transactions.

Toyota is exploring how bitcoin-derived technology could be used to create a "new mobility ecosystem."

Bitcoin's 'blockchain' serves as a distributed ledger that uses a network of independent computers to keep permanent transaction records that cannot be retroactively modified. Aside from digital currency, the inherently secure technology can potentially be used to manage other forms of data.

Collaborating with the MIT Media Lab and other industry players, the Toyota Research Institute is developing a digital environment that can be used to share driving and autonomous vehicle testing data, manage ride- and car-sharing transactions, or store vehicle usage information that can be used to set insurance rates.

"Hundreds of billions of miles of human driving data may be needed to develop safe and reliable autonomous vehicles," says TRI mobility director and CFO Chris Ballinger. "Blockchains and distributed ledgers may enable pooling data from vehicle owners, fleet managers, and manufacturers to shorten the time for reaching this goal, thereby bringing forward the safety, efficiency and convenience benefits of autonomous driving technology."

The automaker is pursuing the technology with help from BigchainDB, a company building a data exchange for sharing driving and testing data; Oaken Innovations, a startup developing applications and tokens for P2P car sharing; Commuterz, an Israeli company specializing in P2P carpooling; Gem, an LA-based startup working with Toyota's telematics car insurance joint venture; and Aioi Nissay Dowa Insurance Services.