Innovation in the transport sector: the era of the digital truck
How far will technological advances go? How far can the human brain drive innovation?
The answer seems uncertain and the limits appear boundless.
In the road transport sector, technology presents many economic and ecological challenges. By 2030, these formidable levers of progress and innovation could solve many safety and environmental problems, as well as crucial issues with processing time and costs of delivery.
The digital truck era has arrived
Let us begin by discussing the various technical and logistical innovations that will shape the daily life of the road transport sector over the next 15 years.
Several upgrades are on the horizon regarding the trucks themselves. Trucks tend to be more and more connected to their environment, as well as to other vehicles. The heavy goods vehicles of the future will therefore be perfectly capable of performing self-diagnosis, accurately assessing the progress of the cargo and communicating a great amount of information to the entire supply chain, from the supplier to the final customer.
V2I Communication (Vehicle to Infrastructure)
Indeed, the digital truck will be able to communicate autonomously and in real time with its environment. It will be able to adapt its driving behaviour according to traffic, tolls or the availability of parking lots or service stations nearby.
This will allow maximum optimization of travel times and will promote risk prevention.
V2V communication (vehicle to vehicle)
New systems will allow digital trucks to communicate different information among themselves, such as speed, position or direction.
These intelligent systems will again respond to optimization logic, intended this time to be more comprehensive. In effect, this information will make it possible to evaluate the best driving speed to optimize travel time, fuel consumption or even the wear of the brakes.
Some of the systems mentioned are already being tested in some developed countries such as Germany. This has even given rise to the concept of “platooning”: trucks travelling in close quarters, reducing fuel costs by 11%.
Digital trucks will soon have the possibility of conducting self-assessments.
In other words, they will be able to anticipate the eventual maintenance to be carried out, as well as the risk of malfunctions that can happen on the road. In the event of a problem, the vehicle will immediately indicate the nearest and most suitable to solve the indicated malfunction.
This should increase the lifetime of road vehicles, while also contributing to the reduction of maintenance costs.
Technical advances are also accompanied by advances in organizational planning, logistics and the relationship of the digital truck to its ecosystem.
We had predicted it early on with the arrival of giants such as Tesla or Google on the market of self-driving cars. Heavy goods vehicles will be able to travel long distances without a driver, which will lead to a significant reduction in costs: decreasing fuel consumption, declining accidents due to human error, lowering of wage costs, etc.
Value Chain Integration
The ultra-connectivity of the digital truck will enable it to communicate permanently with all stakeholders in the value chain; from the supplier to end customers. This will allow for greater flexibility and adaptability.
Platform Connecting Supply and Demand
The increasing connectivity of vehicles will enable a link between the fleet manager and the shipper. In this way, it will be possible to accurately know the loading rate of the vehicle, while communicating it in real time.
Security and environmental challenges for the digital truck
The innovations presented above take on their full meaning when confronted with the various issues of the 21st century.
Towards a positive environmental impact
The environment is probably the most important issue in terms of road transport. The transport industry is caught in a vice grip of conflicting logic: on the one hand, it is essential to the proper functioning of the economy on a daily basis, but on the other hand it remains one of the largest emitters of greenhouse gases.
The technologies of tomorrow have therefore been designed to limit or even eradicate the negative impact that road transport can have on the environment. And the digital truck could be the best weapon in our arsenal used to achieve these goals.
Autonomous driving, along with the other advances, will optimize energy consumption and constitute a tremendous technological asset to improve the relationship between transport and the environment.
The digital truck and safety: the error remains human.
If a large portion of accidents today are directly related to human error, digitized trucks will have to partly solve this problem.
The combination of GPS tracking systems, environmental analysis software and autonomous driving will almost eliminate the risk of accidents. But they will also streamline traffic and anticipate technical problems that may endanger other motorists, motorcyclists or truck drivers.
Many innovations are already in progress, others have already been implemented, but many still need to be developed. In the years to come, we will witness the exciting spectacle of a race for digitization.
This technological sprint brings new questions along with it, notably on the coexistence between man and machine, a recurring subject when discussing new technologies.
If you are looking for an innovative company in the field of road transport, our company is at the forefront. Always up to date with the latest innovations and technological improvements, Transport Écono Nord will be happy to lend its support in all your deliveries.
Contact us to learn more about our transport services in Canada and the United States.