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How Technology Is Driving The Transportation Industry Toward A Sustainable Future

Mar 14, 2024 | Innovation + Technology

Every industry contributes to the impact of greenhouse gas emissions, and trucking is no exception. For decades, we have worked to improve sustainability by increasing fuel efficiency and reducing carbon impact.

Fortunately, the world has reached a technical maturity where we can—and must—start taking steps toward a more sustainable future. Ideas that have been around for years, such as alternative fuels and autonomous vehicles, are now within reach. If we act fast enough and invest in the necessary resources, the transportation industry can harness technology in never-before-seen ways.

Logistics And Maintenance

Technology is driving the most sustainable impact through supply chain optimization. For example, empty miles, or when a truck drives with no freight, is an issue the transportation and logistics industry has been improving upon for years. Now, developments in machine learning and AI represent an opportunity to make even larger reductions. Continued improvements to route optimization, including incorporating real-time data for weather and accidents, help reduce idle time and increase route efficiency.

Maintenance efficiency is another area where technology is making an impact. Predictive maintenance systems use IoT devices and onboard sensors to monitor vehicle equipment and alert drivers when there is a potential mechanical problem or the truck is due for routine maintenance. This keeps vehicles operating at peak fuel efficiency and reduces the likelihood of a roadside breakdown, saving the additional emissions from towing.

Alternative Fuels

Vehicle emissions have improved tremendously over the past few decades, especially diesel. Exhaust technology and fuel-refining processes mean fossil fuels are burning cleaner than ever. But as usage only continues to grow, it’s clear that we must diversify our fuel sources to meet future demand.

The idea of alternative fuels has been around for decades, but now it’s time to act and get honest about the viability of each. Transportation companies should have conversations with startups, emerging brands and partner brands to help find viable, alternative solutions that support the trucking ecosystem.

Though we feel that a long-term solution has not yet been identified, there are a few fuel alternatives we have been keeping a close eye on as they develop—electricity, hydrogen and natural gas.

Electric vehicles (EVs) run on a renewable resource and produce no tailpipe emissions; however, this is one energy source that we need to get real about. For trucks alone, three unique challenges need to be solved.

1. The U.S. needs the electrical grid to deliver or produce the electricity required to support an EV-driven nation. An