Moving from point A to point B is a need that transcends time. Fortunately, with centuries of practice, creative minds have found the cognitive fuel needed to engineer new-and-improved solutions to old transportation woes. Year after year, planes fly higher, trains run faster, and cars drive farther. Technology is changing transportation almost faster than humans can keep up with it.
The car transportation industry is no different, making new upgrades every year. Auto shippers are always looking for the next leg up to stay competitive and offer the best deals possible to their customers. While many recent industry advancements have to do directly with cars and transportation, several others may surprise you with a less direct link to wheels and engines.
Smartphones and GPS
Wrestling with a map at a rest stop is frustrating enough when it’s just you, your sedan, and your family, but can you imagine trying to draw a route when you’re responsible for paying clients’ vehicles?
Luckily, long gone are the days when drivers had to rely on paper maps and prayer. Today’s smartphones come with GPS capabilities built-in. Unlike paper maps or even the GPS systems of the early 2000s, these smartphone apps come equipped with live traffic and construction updates as well as route customization options, like excluding toll roads.
Smartphones also allow for greater transparency between customer and driver. Customers can avoid the nail-biting worry of where their car is out of 47,000 miles of interstate: using smartphone apps, drivers can now send that information directly into a client’s hands.
Lastly, smartphones and Internet connectivity, in general, have significant advantages for brokers and managers. Brokers can find new leads and offer automated quotes, while managers can utilize cloud technology and employee management platforms to update drivers and customers alike.
Enclosed auto transport
If you’re often on the highway, you’ve probably ended up behind a truck with a sign that reads, “Construction vehicle. Do not follow.” The thought of ghastly hood dents or cracked windshields usually has drivers changing lanes post haste. Environmental hazards like hail and falling tree branches also represent a threat to your paint job.
Worrying about your car’s exterior can be hair-pulling enough when you’re behind the wheel, but how are you supposed to trust an open carrier full of vehicles to be safe for your smooth cruiser?
This customer anxiety represented a gap in the auto shipping industry, leading providers to start offering a service known as enclosed auto transport. Precisely as the name implies, enclosed auto transporters carry vehicles inside of a closed trailer, reducing the risk of any knicks and dings. Though fewer circuits and wires than other items on the list, this option is especially practical for high-tech, high-dollar car makes like Tesla or Lexus.
It might sound like science fiction, but hover cars and self-driving trucks are closer to reality than you think.
Though self-driving technology still has its training wheels, it could be a game-changer for the auto transportation industry in the next few decades. Entirely autonomous vehicles are still a long way off, but hybrid systems–i.e., self-driving vehicles with human drivers supervising–could enable transports to cover more miles in a day, cutting costs and time. These autonomous systems even have the potential to communicate with other technologies, such as GPS or cloud-based fleet management.
For an extra far-out glimpse into the future, engineers are also looking into the possibility of gyroscopic buses that travel using monorail technology. These buses would glide above regular traffic, solving public transportation crises and reducing the number of cars on the road. Though it’s unclear whether engineers could adapt this tech to the shipping industry, it could still help trim down chokepoints in large cities.
Decades removed from the black exhaust clouds of the seventies, modern diesel fuel has enjoyed numerous advancements in quality and performance. Petroleum refineries can produce an average of 11 gallons of diesel per 42 gallons of crude oil. This high exchange rate means that more efficient fuel is vital to lowering the cost (both monetary and environmental) of any work involving transportation.
Diesel engines are already more efficient than non-diesel engines at converting fuel into energy. Today’s diesel engines evolved from fully mechanical systems to electrical systems with upwards of thirty different sensors to monitor engine performance. Industries like auto transportation can now stretch those miles-per-gallon for all they’re worth.
In the near future, carriers will likely begin incorporating hybrid electric vehicles into their fleets. With electricity cheaper and greener than ever, this advance would revolutionize car shipping in the 21st century.
The interstate was a revolutionary development because of how it connected cities. Similarly, cloud computing can connect people by making data equally accessible no matter who uploads it. For the car shipping industry, this solution means scheduling pickup and dropoff, sharing updates, and finding additional loads along the way. Carriers can manage their fleet while drivers manage their load, and both stay connected to each other and the consumer from beginning to end.
Cloud technology is also an excellent way to collect and synthesize data. For example, how safe is driving a carrier? Are there specific behaviors that make accidents less likely? How often do drivers need to stop, and how can that data be applied for more accurate turn-around time? This data collection can also improve customer relationships: what are consumers’ most significant concerns, and what makes them feel most satisfied with the service?
Auto transport companies can use heightened data and communication capabilities to identify and troubleshoot stopgaps in real-time.
No one knows how much or how fast technology will transform the way people travel and ship cars, but one thing is for sure. At the rate technology is advancing now, our world will start looking like the world of The Jetsons sooner than later. For auto shippers, this means less overhead, more efficient delivery times, and higher customer satisfaction. For consumers, it means lower costs and less risk.
Even if advancements aren’t at the “flying auto transport” stage just yet, the technologies in this list are still paving the road to the industry’s future.