Envisioning the Future of Freight
Transport Topics recently asked industry leaders, “How will technology and innovation change the way freight is transported?” Craig Marris, Executive Vice President of Mixed Fleets, provided the following insights.
We will see freight transformed in ways that make the Jetsons come to life. The demand for freight is going to continue to grow and how it is moved will be driven by technology. However, the acceleration of change will occur in phases as key inflection points are realized.
Initially, adoption of blockchain technology will have a massive impact in the transportation industry. Safety and compliance will continue to be the driving force of interconnected systems. As large sums of data are collected and shared throughout the entire supply chain, a transformation of freight will quickly occur. The information will be analyzed and become actionable among a variety of stake holders. This will enable significant distribution improvements and efficiencies for the entire product lifecycle. For instance, with produce, we will have complete farm-to-fork visibility including where it was produced, warehouse locations, how it was shipped, the temperature it has been kept, and its shelf life.
The deployment of sensors, the core of the Internet of Things, will explode as predicted.
We will get to the point where trucks traveling anywhere in the country will be able to read and process information such as barometric pressure, wind speed, temperature, precipitation intensity, traffic intensity, then automatically deliver adverse weather condition warnings or alternate routes. Of course, sensors on the vehicle are facilitating some form of semi-autonomous trucks that will probably be on the road within five years. We will have certain lanes for drivers and different lanes for platooning and autonomous trucking. Telematic systems will continue to innovate and play a crucial role in fleet management by serving as a single point of operational truth.
Finally, the demand for infrastructure improvements will spike and we will evolve into smart cities. Technological advances are necessary to address last mile deliveries and accommodate driverless vehicles, unmanned aerial vehicles (drones), and likely underground freight delivery channels. Artificial intelligence and machine learning will also play a big part in the automated delivery of packages to homes and businesses.
After these major milestones are achieved, we will likely see freight being delivered in ways that we can’t even imagine today.
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