As autonomous vehicles dominate future-of-transportation headlines, similar innovation is happening behind the scenes across the industry—with less fanfare. Let’s put aside the sexy self-driving Tesla talk for now and focus on predictions for delivery logistics, connected roads, airline efficiency, and other IoT-enabled opportunities. After all, speed, efficiency and saving money are sexy, too.
IoT predictions in the transportation industry
1) Autonomous airline service trolleys
How archaic are those big, clunky airline service trolleys pushed by flight attendants who would rather be doing anything else? And how awkward is it when you have “airplane ear” and can’t properly communicate your order to someone 11 inches away? Worse yet, if there’s any sign of turbulence, the flight crew buckles up and you’re left waiting for the only thing that keeps you sane on a flight—drinking and snacking.
We predict a glorious future where—even for the cretins in coach—passengers will simply tap their orders from their seat tablets, and autonomous service trolleys will deliver their grub and grog. But will these robots spill your coveted Bloody Mary? Between lids and turbulence-resistant tech, we believe it’s possible to stay dry in the sky.
2) Roads, traffic lights and parking will finally get smart
In IoT terms, connected cars need other “things” to catch up and share real-time data to optimize the driving experience—for example, connected roads, traffic lights and parking spaces. Perhaps more enticing for some drivers are other IoT-enabled indulgences; imagine your car sensing your favorite coffee or sandwich shop en route and then placing your order and transacting the payment for you. All you have to do is pick it up and enjoy.
3) Robots helping delivery drivers
As the world increases its online shopping, it naturally means more heavy packages need to be delivered. For example, just a few years ago, the mattress-in-a-box concept was just a pie-in-the-sky idea. Large furniture purchases like this were always driven home by the customer or delivered only by the stores that sold them—often at a premium cost. Today, thousands of heavy mattresses are being machine-compressed, crammed in a much smaller box than ever imagined and schlepped to doorsteps by Amazon, FedEx and UPS drivers—working solo.
We’ve heard about cargo drones delivering packages, but what about a hybrid solution to support today’s massive fleet of delivery drivers? We predict a driver will park on a street and IoT-enabled robots and drones will autonomously deliver packages to nearby homes in the neighborhood. Sensors will identify packages, traffic, pedestrians and the correct address. If human intervention is needed, the driver is alerted. And thanks to less back-breaking work, your local delivery person will be able to hold his or her future grandchildren.
Bonus transportation prediction: It’ll be illegal to drive
Dang it! We tried to write this blog without a section dedicated to self-driving vehicles. Alas, we can’t.
Nearly 1.3 million lives are lost in car accidents worldwide each year. That’s more than 3,000 deaths a day. Will we one day see a law passed deeming human driving illegal?
IoT makes it possible for autonomous vehicles to avoid dangers that humans can’t. Since computers can process data faster and more effectively than humans, they can sense and anticipate accidents before they occur. This enables them to brake quicker, swerve faster and reach destinations safely. Also, driverless vehicles don’t text friends, have road rage, fall asleep at the wheel or drive drunk.
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