By: Kevin Williams
Categories: Cool Tech
The Internet of Things (IoT) consists of objects that have sensors which allow them to send and receive data through the internet. These objects are often referred to as "smart," and there are smart televisions, smart clothes, and smart homes to name a few. Now, we also have smart trains, planes, boats and cars as well as smart iterations of virtually every other means of conveyance you can think of. But what does this mean for those who operate, ride, or otherwise depend on transportation in their personal and professional lives?
To begin with, IoT-enabled smart transportation can be safer than traditional transportation. For example, if cars are able to communicate with drivers, infrastructure, and one another, it will "vastly enhance transportation safety if deployed on a mass scale," according to Kyle Connor, Cisco's transportation industry principal. In addition, IoT-enabled artificial intelligence-driven deep learning processes analyze traffic patterns in smart cities to optimize traffic safety. There's even smart bicycle technology that integrates with GPS to help guide riders to their destinations safely, and that deters theft.
Another benefit of smart transportation is that it's more efficient, thus saving money and being better for the environment. For example, a company recently developed an electric drivetrain that allows school buses to operate on electricity instead of diesel fuel without any changes required for driver behavior. This technology will also allow bus companies to monitor their vehicles for preventative maintenance to save money on costly repairs. These developments came as a result of a $9 million program through the U.S. Dept. of Energy and various public and private entities in the state of California to accelerate the adoption of advanced and alternative fuel vehicles.
Many cities are also investing in smart technology to support their transportation infrastructure. Their goals are to optimize traffic efficiency, reduce infrastructure costs, and create safer roads. For example, Paris has launched a smart city initiative to gather data on how drivers operate their cars which it uses to plan road development.
The supply chain and logistics industry has seen substantial improvements in its profitability as a result of IoT-enabled smart transportation technology such as radio frequency identification (RFID). This allows logistics companies to track merchandise, vehicles, and other assets in real-time. It also allows them to automatize otherwise manual processes to reduce redundant trailer moves, yard gate congestion, product shrinkage, lost fuel, and wasted time. As a result, these companies are able to reach nearly 100 percent shipping and receiving accuracy, 99.5 percent inventory accuracy, 30 percent faster order processing and a 30 percent reduction in labor costs.
In addition, IoT technology allows logistics companies to stay connected to drivers and vehicles across their entire fleet at all times. This allows them to better anticipate and respond to repairs and maintenance needs as well as inclement weather conditions and heavy traffic. They can also monitor driver and technician performance in real-time to increase safety, reduce damaged inventory, and lower insurance-related costs.
For shipping by train, the Association of American Railroads recently certified a new sensor that uses IoT technology to better manage loading and unloading of rail tank cars for commodities such as crude oil and refined fuels. This allows shippers to automatically measure and report on the specific level and volume of the commodities in tank cars, thus leading to increased efficiencies. It also allows shippers to monitor the locations of tank cars in real time to prevent leaks and thefts.
The IoT is changing many aspects of life and business, and the transportation sector is no exception. Soon, we'll see the effects of smart transportation everywhere, leading to a safer, smarter future.