The Future of Freight Transport

Apr 20, 2017 · 3 min read

Cargo shipping business is changing. Services such as ShipVio, ConVoy and Uber Freight are trying to connect the shippers directly with the carriers and
so disrupt the status quo by cutting out the middle men.

However it cannot and won’t just end with the getting rid off the middle men. Not only will the way we ship cargo change but the shipping itself will change. We want everything faster be it grocery off of the local Tesco or headphones off of the Chinese Aliexpres. The amount of goods that hits the road every day in our globally village is huge already and the trend will only get stronger.

Frankly, it will go through the roof(one of the many) and there are at least two reason why current shipping companies won’t keep up: trucks or vans are not flexible enough to handle the ever growing demand, and companies face a shortage of drivers whose average age is 50 years and is still rising.
It is therefore likely that we will have to automate not only the shipment handling, but also the transportation itself.

In recent years, the drones are the thing and we get to hear a lot about how Amazon is testing them and would like to start using them soon in delivery. However, I think that in densely populated areas or in cities, the drones will never be put into use. Not because the fall of a heavy drone from a few meters can actually kill or cripple a man, but the drones will not start flying for the same reason that Concorde or Zeppelins have stopped. In spite of negligible statistics of injury or killing by the drone, the public will reject it. People will be afraid of the grumbling monsters in the sky, and their fears will be increased by the media, which will turn every accident into a apocalypse.

The drones will, in my opinion, act as a pony express between the distribution hubs that are already along our motorways. The operation of the drones alongside the roads would not bother anything nor threaten anyone.

And what about the cities or densely populated places then? Immediate and 24/7 service in such places will, in my opinion, will be provided by self-driving vans. Each delivery van with its own sector and a tireless robot driver will be able to deliver any goods at any time.

As a result, the system could look like this: a self-driving van — drone(s) — self-driving van. The shipment will be picked up by a self-driving van, which delivers the goods to a hub, where a drone picks it up and takes it to the destination hub. At the destination hub the shipment gets pick up by another self-driving van. If it is a longer journey, the drones would hand the shipment to each other like the aforementioned pony express. The final delivery would be up to a self-driving van.

by Dan Cupak


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