Written by Nathan Sykes 

It’s no stretch to say technological advancements have resulted in a significant transformation in the modern world, and that’s true of many industries. The fleet, transportation and vehicle management industry is no exception.

Without more context, it’s hard to imagine how certain platforms and systems will fit in the space — including technologies like blockchain, VR, AR, AI, machine learning and big data. How in the world could blockchain, for instance — a technology originally developed to support cryptocurrencies — fit into the vehicle and fleet management industry?

The Emerging Technologies Supporting Modern Fleets

At the core of nearly all emerging technologies is one that is transformative for modern industry: big data. It’s especially essential because it serves as the cornerstone for information streams and analysis that can enhance processes, make more informed decisions and extract actionable insights.

Consider a fleet of vehicles outfitted with GPS tracking and real-time monitoring tools, for instance. As the vehicles complete their routes, the technology will stream back data to get processed and used as necessary. This information would allow fleet managers to check in with drivers at any point during their trip, deliver commands or even help keep them safe — by tracking their whereabouts, you’ll know exactly when something off-kilter happens. Other small devices such as trade van and vehicle accessories can prevent distracted driving, which occurs quite frequently.

Of course, such technologies and systems would be useless without a connected big data and analytics platform.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg, however.

Blockchain

Blockchain is closely associated with cryptocurrencies, yes, but it’s nothing more than a decentralized, secure digital ledger. Each transaction carried out on a blockchain network becomes part of the “chain,” with each item or transaction making up a “block,” hence the name. Each block on the chain syncs with previous transactions before it, and therefore cannot be edited, altered or manipulated once created. Only the participating members can update a block, and generally, the information only pertains to the transaction or event that took place.

A blockchain creates a shared or decentralized system that works remarkably similar to a peer-to-peer network. However, a blockchain is much more secure, because every entry within the network is both accurate and verifiable.

To this end, blockchain can facilitate the exchange of data or information, which is how it can apply to the vehicle management industry. With an established network, all parties in the supply chain can track — in real time — the vehicles and freight in a push for complete transparency.

Several ongoing projects aim to implement this technology as a useful tool in the industry.

Augmented Reality Devices

Aside from training purposes, VR doesn’t fit as a tool for active drivers. AR, on the other hand, is a subset of VR that involves placing digital content or media within the real world. You could, for example, have a virtual display on the dashboard that shows travel information, current speeds, weather conditions and much more.

Taking that a step further, AR can combine with active monitoring systems to help prevent distracted driving. California-based company Nauto has developed devices that can detect and send alerts to distracted drivers, further preventing accidents and saving potential damage and injury costs.

Distracted driving accounts for nearly 25 percent of all motor vehicle crash fatalities. Preventive systems, combined with dashboard or head-worn AR systems, could relay the necessary information to drivers without pulling their attention away from current duties — allowing them to continue safely navigating the roadways.

Autonomous Vehicles

Electric trucks and more efficient vehicles are common these days as companies actively seek to cut down on operating costs and improve environmental impact. But the next logical move is toward fully autonomous trucks and fleet vehicles that require little to no oversight from human drivers.

We are still years away from seeing such technologies in daily use, but many auto and tech companies are working to make this happen. UPS, for instance, has already rolled out modern tech to power their London-operated electric vehicles.

We’re well on the way to seeing this happen. Believe it or not, driverless vehicles stand to make our roadways much safer when they eventually arrive — automated fleets and transports notwithstanding.

Nathan Sykes is the founder of Finding an Outlet, where he writes about the latest in technology and business news and advice.

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