With a big advance in technology, logistic and transport sector is stepping into a new era. Now, the most used freight transport in Europe is trucking. About 75% of inland freight transport is done by road in the EU, less than 19% by rail and about 6% by inland waterways.
Croatian statistics are similar: 73,6 by road, 21,2 by rail and 5,2 by inland waterways.
How will the most used type of transport – trucking industry change in the near future?
Let’s give an example: The truck is loaded in Croatia and it follows the best route avoiding traffic jams or any difficulties on the road to Spain. It is the autonomous vehicle and there is no regulation for stopping to rest (or this will be regulated in the future?). When the truck is near the target it stops at target city’s hub where it is unloaded. The old fashioned truck with driver takes the load to the final destination (“the last mile”). As hub-to-hub transport will be automated, this last mile could be the centre of future work and possibly the revenue.
Logistic is already simplified using online tools and tracking, next step should be connecting all parts of the logistic process and managing it automatically. Currently, the driver has many obstacles like paperwork or border controls. This process will be fully digitalised and use of AI should make it more efficient and errorless. Then, there will be the possibility to control the whole system which will make logistic more efficient and make room for a range of optimisations.
Obstacles or limitations like driver shortages or driving limited maximum driving time could be avoided in the future.
Now, a big percentage of trucks are operating without payload. In future, the fully automated process could decrease this dramatically.
Toxic emissions are also a consideration and the new technological advance is getting in favour of new electrical engines. The system of truck platooning, where two or more vehicles are electronically coupled with one another at a close distance allows fuel-saving and reduces emissions and increases safety (example of Man trucks).
Tesla, Volvo, Audi, and Volkswagen’s driverless technologies are already in the headlines, but there are many issues open like insurance or responsibility for the load. After years of improvements, ground-breaking innovations in this sector are now in the focus of every major manufacturer. There are many things still open, but estimated cost savings could make this shift earlier than we may expect it.
Load system will be fully automated in future as part of warehouse systems where we already see examples of robots being used.
Delivery drones with limited weight capability are already in use. The further development will change that in near future with drones that will have the capability to ship packages all over the continent.