The future of logistics and transportation

Mercedes-Benz EQ Concept

We’ve grown accustomed to having personal cars and driving ourselves. This will change in the next twenty years.

The electric car

There are big changes coming to the auto industry — namely autonomous driving and electrification. Auto makers will either move with the wave or perish. Renewable energy is cheaper and much much cleaner than the dirty fossil fuels. Gas stations will be replaced with charging stations. The air pollution will decrease. The only thing separating us from truly renewable energy mass adoption is the battery technology. Lithium is taxing on the environment for extraction and dead batteries are toxic. Possible solution is switching to space-age materials — like graphene. Graphene is a one atom thick layer of atoms with super properties. It can make batteries smaller, safer and faster charging.

Graphene molecule structure.

Brands should move away from Internal Combustion Engines (ICEs) and invest heavily in R&D and battery tech. This will solve problems well beyond the auto industry. We can have decentralized electricity with solar panels and Powerwalls. Tesla launched their Solar Roof, which looks beautiful and has solar cells inside the tiles. Countries are moving away from fossil fuels. Companies should be punished with enormous carbon and eco taxes in order to speed the progress to sustainable energy.

Current state of electric cars

After the diesel scandal, Volkswagen are investing $2 billion in zero emission vehicles with the idea to have 30 self driving and electric vehicles by 2025. They have couple cencept cars already in their main VW brands as well as in the other brands like Audi, Porsche, even Bentley.

VW ID electric car: 300-plus mile range in 2020, self-driving by 2025
Audi E-Tron Quattro concept

Mercedes announced their new electric car division — EQ (EQ stands for Electric Intelligence). Their concept (pictured at the beginning of this article) is expected to launch around 2019–2020.

Autonomy

Tesla is close to level 4 autonomous driving, which is “designed to perform all safety-critical driving functions and monitor roadway conditions for an entire trip.” Other makers like Ford are investing in their own technology with release timeframe in early 2020s. With autonomous cars, less people will need to own a vehicle and there are planned UBER-like car sharing services for these new vehicles. The only difference is the missing driver. There will be numerous effects on many industries — car insurance for example will go through big changes to accommodate this future. The auto makers are currently selling in big volumes and making the majority of their profits from services — changing the oil, replacing parts, etc. This will all change. Different business models will be needed for the surviving businesses. One thing they could do is service batteries, do repairs and make interior refreshments as the cars will see a lot more usage when shared.

What about logistics and delivery?

In my opinion (an educated guess by looking at where technology is going), we’ll either receive our deliverables (food, consumer products) to us via drones or via eco-friendly transportation like postmen on cycles. Third option would be receiving the schema of the product and using a 3D printer either in our possession or in a nearby 3D printing shop. As for delivery vans — they’ll be autonomous and will carry the packages plus some drones dispatched when the recipient is in the vicinity. There’s an existing concept courtesy of Mercedes-Benz and the drone manufacturer Matternet.

Mercedes-Benz Vision Van with a rooftop-integrated Matternet M2 drone.

Conclusion

Brave new world is approaching. Many companies will go out of business or drastically change business models. Many new will appear. Automatization will make roads safer and new tech will make the customers happier. Renewable energy sources are the way of the future. We should move away from fossil fuels, because it’s this century’s plague, damaging the environment, the air we breathe and our health.