In this week’s edition, ACES are changing the world of transportation as we know it, robots are delivering pizzas, and startups are solving all the world’s problems. To get future editions of Freight News in Cartoons sent directly to your inbox, you can subscribe here.
It’s a Jungle Out There
Since 2010, over $200 billion has been invested in Autonomous, Connected, Electric, and Shared (ACES) technologies.
In a recent report, McKinsey analysts are calling the collection of promising technologies “Mobility’s Second Great Inflection Point” and go on to compare the technological shift currently happening in transportation to the shift that happened over a hundred years ago when horses were replaced by cars.
How quickly changes will come about is an open question, but listening to Ford’s Global Head of Product Development and Purchasing, Hau Thai-Tang, can give you a sense of how seriously OEMs are considering the impacts of technological change and the future of mobility.
“This industry has seen more changes in the past decade than perhaps in the prior hundred years. . . . it’s the combination of all these things—connectivity, autonomy, electrification, and sharing—that has really changed the business landscape. It forces us to step back and rethink our value proposition as a company. And in the next ten years, the pace of change will accelerate even more.”
You can see signs of this shift on an almost daily basis, with BMW and Daimler signing a €1 billion joint partnership agreement to offer mobility services, or Hyundai’s recent announcement to invest $40 billion over the next five years “in development of new models and technologies for electrified and autonomous vehicles as well as transportation services.”
Electronically Ordered, Autonomously Delivered
In the transportation industry, more specifically, autonomous and electric announcements continue to happen every day.
FedEx’s delivery robot will soon be delivering Pizza Hut pizzas and groceries from Walmart, as well as making other same-day deliveries. Pronto’s Level 2 autonomous software will be available for fleets to purchase for $4,999 later this year. And self-driving trucks have officially started making daily deliveries in China.
On the electric side, the infrastructure bottleneck continues to be a concern, but a recent NACFE report claims it’s not an insurmountable challenge and paints a possible path forward. Carlton Rose, President of Global Fleet Maintenance and Engineering for UPS, believes that with more and more people living in cities and shopping online, electric trucks are the future, stating that “in today’s business world, it’s not enough to react to change, you must be leading the change, otherwise you won’t be around long.” The US Department of Energy also announced that they’ll be devoting $51.5 million to funding further research and development into alternative fuel technologies.
There’s a Startup for That
In startup related news, there’s a startup in Florida called Truck Spot tackling the problem of truck parking by better utilizing available spaces. There’s a startup called Worklete addressing workplace safety for transportation and logistics workers through a technology platform. A startup called Road-Aware is preventing rollovers by alerting drivers to better control their speed. And finally, DrayAlliance just received $3.5 million in seed funding to tackle the drayage bottleneck.
The transportation industry has always been shaped by technology. The railroad and steam engine, the highway and internal combustion engine, globalization and the box container—they all had dramatic impacts on how goods moved around the world. Autonomous, Connected, Electric, and Shared vehicles will undoubtedly shape the future. The questions of when, how, and to what extent are fascinating to watch unfold.
Steele Roddick is a Content Specialist at Microdea where he creates content that helps transportation companies drive their business forward. He’s endlessly fascinated by technology trends, chess, and discovering new places to travel with his wife.