Analysts predict that by 2020, 75% of new cars will feature IoT connectivity. The percentage increase describes consumer applications, but the idea of connected vehicles should garner interest from other sectors such as shipping, logistics, and transportation. Leaders in these industries would be wise to plan for a future where AI and the IoT transform transportation management. Here are five possible applications to consider.
1. Streamline Decision-Making
David Poulsen, CutCableToday’s IT expert, says connected, or autonomous, vehicles, are attractive because of the technologies that undergird them. “The Internet of Things (IoT) is one part of the equation,” Poulsen explains. “The other part is artificial intelligence (AI). It acts as the driver, helping the connected ‘thing,’ which could be a vehicle or inventory system, make smarter decisions.”
As applied to transportation management, that automated decision-making ability is critical. Connected vehicles, shipments, and systems help with tracking and historical reporting. But real-time insights and responses occur through artificial intelligence.
At TOPBOTS, an online, educational resource for all things AI, writer Mariya Yao calls the process “turning supply chain logistics into automated trading.” She gives an example: Amazon’s ability to deliver packages to a person’s door in under two hours. AI and the IoT streamline the entire process, from order to delivery, to save time and money and meet customer demand.
2. Optimize Operations
DHL, the global logistics provider, posits another application of AI and the IoT optimization. Its 2016 Logistics Trend Radar report suggests that big data and automated supply chains could lead to previously unimaginable levels of optimization.
But that optimization isn’t isolated to a single aspect of transportation management. Rather, DHL predicts a world in which manufacturing, logistics, warehousing, and deliveries become increasingly efficient, productive, and profitable. The provider believes the trend will come to life in the next ten years.
DHL could be correct. General Electric, for example, has started integrating AI into its locomotives to enhance safety and speed. Daniel Malak at Motionloft offers another use for AI and the IoT: optimizing traffic. He says transportation management companies benefit from Motionloft by using it to study traffic patterns and “optimize business practices such as sending out police forces only during peak rush hours, having maintenance crews repair roads that get the most travel, and deploying sanitation crews to clean public areas only when needed.”
3. Manage Warehouses
Tim Young of Vero Solutions shares another way AI and the IoT Could transform transportation management in his infographic looking at warehouses. He says AI could impact six areas of operations.
“Productivity levels, inventory processes, and employee wages are just three fields,” explains Young, “that are expected to be revolutionized and improved by AI technology in warehouses in just a matter of years.”
The other three areas relate to effective communication, warehouse operations, and robot workers. Young’s example of robot workers involves a company previously mentioned: Amazon. The brand has been testing out robots in its warehouses to increase productivity and, presumably, quality control.
4. Decrease Downtime and Repairs
Transportation companies also use AI and the IoT to mitigate costly repairs and downtime. Internal diagnostics, for example, can alert users to maintenance issues, which keeps passengers safe — no blow-outs while traveling down the road at seventy miles per hour, for example — and increases the lifetime value of the vehicle.
Daniel Dombach at Zebra further illuminates the concept, adding that the Internet of Things delivers remote monitoring capabilities. Companies that employ them can proactively respond to maintenance issues and also assess inventory records and parts availability.
Dombach also proves a valid point, saying that AI and the IoT could “decrease insurance-related costs.” Business Insider’s The Insurance and the IoT Report finds that insurers use vehicle usage data to inform pricing on policies and premiums. The report covers consumer insurance policies specifically, but its findings easily translate to commercial interests.
5. Go Driverless
AI and the IoT could impact more than back-end systems and processes. The two could produce driverless vehicles, a thing seemingly the territory of tech giant Google. But Google isn’t alone in the endeavor. Tesla, Ford, Daimler, and even Uber all claim driverless initiatives.
George Zarkadakis at Willis Towers Watson calls out the Uber story in his article The Impact of Artificial Intelligence in Transportation, citing the incident as “a wake-up call.” He continues, “Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) could potentially lead to the full automation of truck fleets.”
Of course, Zarkadakis’s remark raises the question of what happens to the truck drivers. Goldman Sachs Economics Research provides an answer. The company tells CNBC that driverless trucks could produce job losses of 25,000 per month in a couple of decades.
Jack Stewart at WIRED offers a more positive perspective; he says traditional driver jobs will change once autonomous vehicles become a reality, but these jobs won’t necessarily disappear. He also adds other positive effects of this change, such as cutting costs and improving road safety.
The Internet of Things and artificial intelligence are coming to transportation management. The technologies provide too many benefits for them to be ignored. Businesses that wish to succeed in the future should consider these five examples of how the IoT and AI can impact transportation management and then decide where and when to apply these features to their existing operations.