Cardano has updated it’s development roadmap.
Whilst seen by many as well behind main rival Ethereum, the project’s most recent roadmap update indicates that Cardano may be catching up.
But firstly, what is Cardano?
Released September 2017 by former Ethereum developer Charles Hoskinson, Cardano refers to itself as a third-generation cryptocurrency. It aims to differentiate itself by laying a groundwork of academic rigor, with protocol updates undergoing a lengthy peer review process in the cryptography community. It’s hoped that this approach will allow Cardano to sidestep disasters that have plagued other cryptocoins, from security vulnerabilities to faulty code losing users funds. Cardano set itself an enormous challenge, promising to build a Proof of Stake cryptocurrency that tackles scalability, decentralization and security – all three of the central issues that blockchain systems face. They propose a model jam-packed with features to achieve these goals, including a new Proof of Stake protocol; a treasury and voting mechanism; and protection from quantum computing threats. However, as new players in a game other coins have been in for years it remains to be seen whether Cardano can catch up. This months roadmap update sheds some light.
Most notably, the update states that Shelley, the second phase of the cardano project, could be released as early as Q2 of 2018. Shelley marks Cardano’s transition to a Proof of Stake (PoS) model, a system which aims to improve decentralisation, rewarding users for verifying the network without the need for powerful miners. The roadmap states that this transition is 75% complete, which could see Cardano launching a PoS model before Ethereum. Vitalik Buterin, creator of Ethereum recently stated that Casper, Ethereum’s PoS implementation was not the number one priority, with the project instead focusing on scalability development with Plasma, which may buy Cardano some extra time.
This month’s roadmap brought with it the announcement of The Cardano Virtual machine, IELE. This would allow for the development of smart contracts on the Cardano network, an area where the project flags way behind Ethereum. The roadmap states that developers are 35% into an implementation stage, with no estimated date of release. It’s unclear what advantages building on Cardano would offer in comparison with Ethereum’s highly successful virtual machine – a backbone that has enabled hundreds of projects to launch through ICO’s (Inital Coin Offerings) – hugely expanding the cryptocurrency development space. The updated roadmap states that the team has split into “two parallel tracks of research” covering this area, with one “focused on fixing the issues seen with Ethereum’s smart contracts” and the other examining “the general foundational design…of smart contracts”.
Work has begun on the voting center, now at 20% completion. The voting center will allow token holders to have an active say in the development of the ecosystem, voting upon proposals. The Cardano team hope this feature (alongside the Proof of Stake protocol) will maximize decentralization, empowering the Cardano community. It’s a similar concept to the protocol utilized by DASH, and will use funds generated from transaction fees to reward those who develop the network.
Considerable progress has also been made in developing “Quantum Resistant Signatures”, with the roadmap stating that the team are 50% through the implementation stage. Quantum computers are a growing threat to cryptocurrencies, with the capability to easily break the cryptographic functions that ensure the security of most blockchain protocols. It’s a danger that very few cryptocurrencies are preparing for, and could be a distinguishing feature for the Cardano project.
Cardano has made progress in a number of key areas. Most notably, the project appears to be on track to transition from the Byron to Shelley era, which could see the introduction of the Oroborous, the Proof of Stake protocol as early as Q2 of this year. This development would certainly be big news in the crypto space, especially if Shelley is launched before Ethereum’s Casper upgrade. In other areas however, including the implementation of smart contracts and the virtual machine IELE, Cardano flags far behind the Ethereum system. Whilst the project has a sizable team of developers, there is a huge amount of work that needs to be completed, and it remains to be seen whether the project has bitten off more than it can chew. It’s also worth bearing in mind that software development often runs into unforeseen difficulties, and all of the time frames given here may be subject to change .
Examine the update yourself at https://cardanoroadmap.com/