Most everyone already knows that the transportation industry is in a state of flux. While automotive manufacturers might have preferred the era of personal vehicle ownership to continue unto eternity, the proliferation of mobile devices and advancements in location tracking have allowed ride and car sharing platforms to flourish. Now, experts are imagining a completely different future — one where personal ownership is rare and the sharing economy is in full swing.
However, smartphones aren’t the only technologies impacting transportation. Whether you are a gear head or a transportation professional — or else just someone interested in looking ahead — here are a few technologies that will further impact the transportation industry in the coming years.
Telematics is a branch of IT that uses GPS and other technologies to monitor an asset, especially a car or truck. In the past, fleets of vehicles were monitored with meticulous pen-and-paper charts as well as radio check-ins; these days, fleet operators can install state-of-the-art telematics systems to track the locations of individual vehicles as well as monitor maintenance, track fuel consumption and more.
The improvements in telematics have been vast, which is particularly important considering the major shifts expected in the automotive industry. For younger generations, vehicle ownership is less attractive than ride- and carsharing services. As a result, more ride- and carsharing companies are launching, and they need telematics solutions to stay abreast of their vehicles’ movements. Thankfully, platform solutions, like Ridecell, are emerging, ushering in a new age of advanced transportation telematics.
Admittedly, blockchain technology isn’t set to disrupt just the transportation industry; it could force all industries to change at once. Blockchain is best described as a new type of internet, where information is shared amongst users but incapable of being altered or copied. As a result, it is more secure than the existing internet and provides an incorruptible source of data to those who use it.
Currently, blockchain is used primarily to track Bitcoin (and other cryptocurrency) transactions, but a future where blockchain is everywhere isn’t inconceivable. Transportation could be vastly improved by blockchain’s promises of reduced errors, enhanced security and increased efficiency.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is a worldwide network of devices, sensors, tools and machines that allow users to monitor conditions, make changes and otherwise exert greater control over their belongings and environments than ever before. In the transportation industry, the IoT is like an extension of telematics; it provides greater insights into how vehicles are performing and what companies can do better to improve efficiency and expand profits. The IoT is an indispensable source of data that transportation will undoubtedly rely on more heavily in the coming months and years.
Artificial intelligence (AI) sounds scary, but in truth the machines aren’t going to take over any time soon. Rather, businesses, especially within transportation, can make good use of AI to increase efficiency. For example, municipalities might apply AI to their public transit to create better bus routes, optimize the number of train cars or the length of stops, make changes during inclement weather or events and perform other tweaks and changes to the system.
Drones And UAVs
Drones are more than expensive toys; they are being used for professional photography and cinematography, for official land and environmental surveys, for agriculture, for warfare — and for transportation? Indeed, Amazon and a handful of other delivery services have announced an interest in using drones and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in the transportation of goods. Undoubtedly, this will make major waves in the transportation industry, which has long required human drivers to pack and drive trucks.
On one hand, drones could provide a solution to the serious issue of driver shortage, which does have negative impacts on the transportation industry. They also eliminate problems associated with driver fatigue. On the other hand, drones threaten the thousands of jobs enjoyed by human drivers, and they create a logistical challenge in the air. Drone technology is advanced enough to provide these services, and 2019 will reveal how (or if) drones could take over transportation.
Perhaps the most obvious impending technological modification to transportation, autonomous vehicles could be everywhere in 2019. Already in select cities around the world, autonomous vehicles are successfully obeying driving laws and transporting passengers to destinations swiftly and conveniently. Undoubtedly, autonomous vehicles will further bolster ride- and carsharing economies, all but eliminating the market for personal ownership.
Indeed, the ramifications of any technology are difficult to predict, but experts are all but certain that these tech innovations will change transportation in 2019. Whether you are a driver, an entrepreneur or a gearhead, you should pay close attention to these technologies in the coming months.