Projected impact: Disruptive
Timeframe: Within 5 years
Mankind has, for as long as we can remember, strived to create tools to help us in our daily struggle. In that sense, we have used technology to solve everyday problems since the dawn of man. The development in machinery that began in the mid 18th century and from there grew into the industrial revolution brought with it massive societal, financial and environmental changes. That development has continued to accelerate and today, many aspects of society is, or can be, automated.
In production, automation has been the method of choice for more than a century, bringing precision and scalability to otherwise work-intensive industries. We see now see a dramatic increase in automation, partly due to advances in digital technologies such as sensors, processing power and algorithms.
In logistics, we see large scale fully automated warehouses (source Ocado, JD) where high order volumes are picked and shipped almost entirely without human involvement. These massive facilities will require equal precision and capacity from the transportation system.
Another example is autonomous vehicles (see separate article). Tesla has recently launched their semi truck with (allegedly) autonomous driving and startups like Einride are aiming to disrupt the haulage industry with their T-pods (In essence an AGV made for long-range transport).
Even if automation of the individual vehicle may lie sometime in the future, we are already seeing automation in the bordering systems, such as intelligent delivery boxes:
For the traditional transportation industry, automated interfaces with adjacent systems will be more and more common as these systems all strive to be as costs efficient as possible.