It’s an exciting time in the transportation industry. As an industry where efficiency is everything, it’s no newcomer to disruptive innovations. Although it’s already come a long way, emerging technologies like autonomous driving capabilities, e-hailing, enhanced fleet tracking, AI, faster networks, and the Internet of Things is set to disrupt it even further.
For proactive businesses, there are promising developments on the horizon. Optimizing your ground transportation now can have a direct positive impact on your bottom line.
Autonomous e-hailing services
Conventional e-hailing services like Uber has already proven its value as a convenient method of transportation. However, self-driving or autonomous e-hailing, also called “robo-taxis,” may even be more valuable for business customers.
Unlike conventional e-hailing, there isn’t the same element of human fallibility. We all know the frustration of an Uber driver not finding the right route, not picking you up right away, talking when you want peace and quiet, or driving erratically.
Self-driving vehicles won’t have any of those issues. The moment you book a cab, it will head straight for your location and deliver you to the specified address. Furthermore, with built-in GPS and in communication with a central server, these cars can instantaneously adapt to local conditions.
If roads are closed or traffic conditions change, the vehicle can immediately reroute—no need to stop and find an alternate route manually.
It will also mean a lower overhead for companies as they won’t have to hire dedicated drivers. For this reason, companies might soon have their own fleet of private autonomous “robo-taxis.”
These vehicles aren’t only useful for transporting people. Packages can be picked up from automated warehouses and delivered with zero human intervention; in fact, Apple is already fulfilling some orders using autonomous drone cars. Eliminating human error will drastically optimize business operations.
For now, electric car maker Tesla has an undisputed head start when it comes to self-driving technology. Some Tesla cars will soon feature full autonomous capabilities. However, Google and Apple are also investing in this technology, and traditional manufacturers like GM, Ford, Honda are also exploring self-driving features.
The evolution of fleet tracking
In the early to mid-1950s, locomotive companies had a massive problem: Because of limited communication, no one actually knew where their trains were unless they were at a station.
This had a massive impact on how efficiently these companies could run. Not only did it take too long to figure out if a train was incapacitated, but there was virtually no situational adaptability.
Fleet-tracking technology changed the game for transportation and courier companies. Now, these businesses know exactly where each one of their vehicles is at any given time. Live updates of any incidents that affect their delivery or schedule are also possible.
Rental companies also benefit from advancements in fleet-tracking technology. It allows them to more accurately determine when specific vehicles will be available in various locations.
While fleet tracking isn’t exactly new, the next step is integration with 5G, AI, and machine-learning systems. Combining with AI will further streamline operations by automatically rerouting, alerting drivers, and giving operators greater situational awareness. Machine learning will help carriers more accurately predict future variables like traffic, weather, rate of incidence, and ETA estimations.
5G technology will help this all happen much faster, with up to 100 times increased bandwidth speeds and 5 times lower latency than 4G.
Frictionless transport experiences
We can thank traditional e-hailing services like Uber for massively improving the convenience of this everyday task. With e-hailing apps on our phones, there’s no need to flag down or call a taxi or go to the nearest concierge office.
However, this experience can be taken even further. Some transportation companies are already providing dedicated tablets from which customers can make orders. These tablets directly tap into the fleet-tracking infrastructure, giving the end customer all the available data to make an informed business decision.
This almost completely cuts out the middleman. Clients can initiate time-sensitive and business-critical orders almost immediately, with no need to contact a customer service rep who then needs to check availability before getting back to the client. Once the order is completed, the vehicle (either with a driver or driverless) will simply update its status and return to the available fleet.
Orders can then be paid either online or via MPOS (mobile point-of-sale) technology built into the fleet’s vehicles.
If a nearby business initiates another order, the whole process can be kicked off again without delay. It’s a win-win for both the transportation and client company in terms of saving time, effort and money.
Save money and streamline your business by optimizing ground transportation now
Much potential remains for improving ground transportation operations. With 5G and AI technologies just on the horizon, we have only scratched the surface of what’s possible. These technologies are set to disrupt the transportation industry and catapult it into the future. Although the cost of implementing such technologies now might seem high, they will more than make up for it in future savings.
Be an early adopter and set the stage for your business to soar in the new decade.
For more on how emerging technologies are disrupting the transportation industry, read The End Of The Beginning For Ride Hailing.