Centuries ago the idea of planes carrying tons of weight including people, luggage, and shipments was an insane one. Even the thought of being able to carry extremely large loads on ships safely and quickly was out of the question. Only in someone’s wildest dream could these things be possible. Fast-forward to the last four or five decades and air, land, and ocean freight is now normal for the world. Fast-forward to several decades in the future from today, and the notions and crazy imaginations that might that seem impossible now, will be normal to the public.
It’s a bit exciting thinking about what is possible for our future in freight. The possibilities are endless and the creativity is already churning out all kinds of new and innovative freight options. So, turn on your imagination for a few minutes, and try and picture with us what freight, shipping, and deliveries might look like in 50 years.
Drones are already filling up the air left and right as we speak. Kids and adults alike are getting them as Christmas and birthday gifts, and different bloggers and news agencies are using them to capture unique overhead images and videos.
One of the most amazing things about drones is their ability to reach hard to access areas. Drone delivery can help bring supplies to extremely remote areas, or medical equipment to stranded hikers or even boats lost at sea. The speed and precision of drones is what makes them such an incredible asset to deliveries.
Drones are already making waves in the world of shipping, and will continue to do so in the next 50 years. It can easily be imagined that drone shipments to businesses and individual homes will be just as common as two day or overnight shipping is to today.
Drones don’t need to be stuck in traffic, or follow that many air travel regulations, as of yet. They can reach your home quickly and efficiently without using petrol, and instead, they currently use mostly rotors and battery packs.
Increase in trains
It sounds a bit counterintuitive to say that railway freight is the future of freight, but hear us out. High speed trains are becoming faster and faster, gaining popularity in large and highly populated cities, because it takes individual cars off the road and is usually a cheaper option than driving and parking your car in the city.
Eventually, certain types of trains, outfitted to reach speeds tenfold of what a car or truck can reach, will start being developed around the world. As we’ll go into more detail on below, these trains can potentially be self-driving, saving on the cost of drivers, as well as self loading. Freight can be shipped across a country infinitely faster and can carry a lot more than a truck.
Robotics in loading
Loading trucks, shipping boats, and even planes currently require machinery to load, but still a human to operate the machinery, like someone operating a forklift. As robotics continues to grow and develop, the future of loading continues to look less and less human operated.
When companies hire a forklift, we may see them be able to calibrate it to their needs, set a robotic driving machine on it, and off it goes to load for the day. Employees working for these companies will need to be more specialised in forklift calibrations like this, versus solely knowing how to operate the machinery.
Moving your house will continue to get easier and easier, as physical people will only be required to bring the boxes out of your home and to the loading point, where a robotic lift will lift, carry, organise and load the moving truck.
Along the same lines as robotic loading, trucks hauling all types of loads across the world will slowly start transitioning to driverless vehicles. From car wreckers bringing wrecked stacks of cars to the junkyard, to semi trucks hauling grain from coast-to-coast, most cross country truck shipments are spending hours upon hours on highways. This requires drivers today to stop regularly to sleep and rest, to avoid accidents and driver fatigue. Self driving vehicles totally removes the need for these delays, and can increase the quantity and quickness of shipments by quite a bit.
Uber style delivery
If you’ve taken a taxi lately, you probably know about the multiple types of taxis you can take these days. As actually standing on a street corner and attempting to hail a taxi fades into the past and the shining new apps on your phone to send a taxi directly to your location take off, delivery and shipping will also start to utilise a more modern approach.
We may start seeing models such as truck drivers being able to be registered and certified as delivery or shipment drivers, and then being able to vie for a delivery as it becomes available. For example, retail stores may offer delivery of their items, and when a customer orders something to be delivered, the delivery is posted to a driver’s hub and those closest to the location can grab it and make the delivery. This way, drivers can pick and choose their deliveries, hours, and prefered locations, and customers will get their item much faster.
Same day delivery
The Uber model for shipments may start to blend over to same day deliveries, as it would become a lot easier for drivers to simply choose deliveries in their neighborhood. Many companies, such as Amazon, are implementing same day deliveries already, so it’s just a matter of time before the service becomes mainstream for everyone.
While a lot of these ideas sound so advanced and futuristic from what we currently have, the truth is, every single one is already being implemented or in the planning phases. It may even be less than 50 years before we see a few of these start to become our reality. So sit back, relax, and watch the Sci-fi future of freight unfold before our eyes!