The technological changes at the heart of this are IoT, machine learning, and artificial intelligence (AI) – which together have already begun to make autonomous vehicles viable. While in the immediate short term there are significant regulatory hurdles to be overcome, automation has the potential to reshape both how people go about their day-to-day lives and how companies transport goods across long distances. Once the number of autonomous vehicles on the road reaches a certain tipping point, private car ownership will become redundant as it will not make economic sense to own a vehicle which sits unused for most of the time. Instead, fleets of for-hire autonomous vehicles will become increasingly popular.
Meanwhile, mass transit is already being significantly improved by the introduction of smart sensors in concert with big data and predictive analytics. For example, Siemens AG has developed an ‘Internet of Trains’ project in Russia to improve reliability of service. Smart sensors monitor a wide array of data points, from rail vibration to engine temperatures, enabling them to anticipate equipment breakdowns and fix them before they become an issue in an act of predictive maintenance. This data is also used to help ensure that the network is adaptable to transport requirements – transporting passengers and cargo in the most efficient way possible.