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Workplaces of the Future Pt. 3: Business Transport of the Future

Workplaces of the Future Part Three: What Could the Future Look Like for Business Transport?

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In the third and final part of our series, we’ve looked at the potential future of another pivotal part of the working world, namely, business transport.

Again, using expert opinions and survey data from UK consumers and business owners, we’ve put together this speculative post that details what transportation options we might one day see being used in business for everything from deliveries to commuting.

 

Modern Business Transport: In Focus

Today, we have a wealth of different types of transport being used that have rapidly developed in recent decades to become bigger, better and faster. What’s more, from a historical perspective, this development has also been very important to businesses and economies as the progressive improvements in the quality of transport has led to more growth opportunities.

This is according to a study on TransportGeography.org, which clearly explains this link:

The transport sector is an important component of the economy and a common tool used for development. This is even more so in a global economy where economic opportunities have been increasingly related to the mobility of people, goods and information. A relation between the quantity and quality of transport infrastructure and the level of economic development is apparent.

 High density transport infrastructure and highly connected networks are commonly associated with high levels of development. When transport systems are efficient, they provide economic and social opportunities and benefits that result in positive multipliers effects such as better accessibility to markets, employment and additional investments.’

Based on this, the first assumption we could make is that business transport will continue to develop and after carrying out a survey of UK business owners and consumers and asking the experts, here’s some of the predictions we sourced.

 

Widespread Use of Autonomous Craft

We previously discussed the possible future use of drones and autonomous vehicles for the collection and delivery of goods in the second part of this series, but once again our survey respondents strongly believed that such craft will also be used widely for the majority of business transportation.

More than half (56%) of the people we asked thought one day we will see widespread use of these for supply and logistics and for business and personal use.

This notion was supported by Professor Richard Wilding OBE – a recognised expert in logistics and supply chain management – who told us that autonomous vehicles would one day be used via ‘sea, land and air’ and these would become a reality because the ‘concept of “Industry 4.0” is currently with us and very much moving forward’.

Industry 4.0 – sometimes known as the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ – is the name many are giving to the current technological age we live in. There’s also a belief that it will be the catalyst for lots of new and innovative technologies to be created, that could revolutionise the way we work.

Professor Wilding also commented that ‘autonomous robots’ are one of the nine current core components of Industry 4.0 and the development of this tech is already well underway. So, it may be the case that we might not have to wait until the far future for such vehicles to be in common use.

 

Large, Multi-Level Vehicles

As well as being self-driving, another popular prediction by business owners and consumers alike was that future business vehicles would be much bigger and multi-levelled – especially for public transport.

Nearly 30% of respondents shared this belief and this could stem from the fact that population growth is expected to continue at the rapid rate we are currently experiencing and there’ll be a need to provide travel services for a greater number of people.

In a similar vein, the higher demand for goods from a bigger population may also mean the vehicles used in logistics and supply chains are also much larger to accommodate this.

Teleportation

One of the more leftfield predictions from our survey was the possible use of teleportation as a method of transport, which despite having its roots in science fiction, was something 5% of people still felt could be something the future brings.

In this instance, the type of ‘teleportation’ here is the same as this definition from ‘How Stuff Works’ which would see particles being scanned by a teleportation machine in one place, disassembled, sent somewhere else and then reassembled in a matter of seconds. If such capabilities were one day available, this might see goods or even people using such machines to get from A to B.

While this does currently seem a little far-fetched, the same definition does also go on to explain how studies by physicist Charles Bennett have proved that theoretical ‘quantum teleportation was possible’ – the teleportation of particles. However, the same study also confirmed that quantum ‘teleportation was possible, but only if the original was destroyed’ so essentially a copy is made, rather than the actual object being transported.

Professor Richard Wilding also gave us his thoughts on teleportation, explaining that while he didn’t think this would be possible for people it ‘may be possible to move products’. He stated that it would obviously be quite risky to send human beings and sustainability would be an issue as it would require ‘lots of energy’ to teleport complex objects such as people.

Something he did add to this though was that people may one day be able to ‘virtually teleport’ using more advanced VR technology. He also said that this might ‘happen sooner than we think’ given the current VR tech we already have available. As such, in the business world this might mean when people ‘travel’ to meetings or the workplace they simply project themselves there holographically instead.

 

New Road Networks

The aforementioned point about the increasing population and demand for goods leading to the need for larger transportation craft and vehicles was something that could also help explain why a number of respondents also believe that we will see much larger road networks in the future. In addition to this, 20% of those surveyed also believed that we may even see underground roadways and tunnel networks.

With the latter this would make sense, as in theory if there’s a bigger population, the space above ground may well be taken up by more buildings for accommodation and – as we speculated in our last post – larger storage facilities. So, heading underground could be a way for future transport and craft to move more freely and directly about the country.

Moreover, these underground networks and the autonomous vehicles using them could also be managed by smart tech. This is according to this article from The Next Web which not only speculates that self-driving vehicles will become commonplace, in terms of infrastructure the roadways could be managed by ‘cooperative Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS)’.

The post goes on to give an example of how larger vehicles could be controlled by these systems. The ITSs would make sure vehicles are ‘keeping a steady speed and very short distance from one another’ in turn reducing ‘factors such as wind resistance’ and ‘fuel consumption’ and ‘dramatically improving safety’.

 

Takeaways for Today’s SME

Much like the previous two posts in this series this is all speculation, however as some of these points are based on present-day technologies that are still in development, to repeat a key point from Professor Wilding, some of these business transport options may well be here sooner than we think.

In the meantime, there are some key learnings from our post about the future of business transport that SMEs may wish to consider which could help them with their operations:

  • It could be a good idea to keep up to date with any advances in new transport vehicles and options, as our survey has shown that a large number of consumers have expressed an interest in new and innovative transport options. By getting involved with these as and when they appear, your SME could become more appealing to this demographic.
  • Our post also suggests that quality transport options are important for creating economic growth, so in the short term investing in excellent present-day options can be beneficial. One example being using our range of delivery services to manage your supply chain or delivery needs.

 

  • As well as monitoring any transport developments, our research suggests that it could also be useful to look at upcoming developments in local and national infrastructure. There might be new routes opening up soon that could give your SME access to more markets or potential clients.

 

This post concludes our three-part series, but make sure to visit our blog again as we will be looking into other interesting insights and developments in the business world soon.

 

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