At once, the automotive industry has suffered and benefited from the exceptional circumstances of 2020. The stay-at-home and shelter-in-place mandates pushing so many people to work remotely has reduced traffic, particularly around the times that usually would be incredibly busy.
Personal vehicles are being used less, however freight is doing a roaring trade. The supply chain is more important than ever, and online retail has made parcel delivery a top priority.
It’s important to note this since those who have been dutifully remaining in isolation over the past year might have come to think that road activity has diminished far more than it actually has. Even with the move away from office life, driving remains a core concern for many businesses. And for obvious reasons, business owners everywhere are eager to operate as safely as possible.
Furthermore, the general introspection engendered by the chaos of life during a pandemic has moved the matter of sustainability up the public agenda. Given time to think about where the world is heading, more and more people — thus more and more companies — are putting in work to make organizations greener.
That’s where technology comes in. Technology is a wonderful thing, and it’s slowly but surely lifting safety and sustainability standards for business driving. Let’s look at how this is happening.
1. It’s providing rich driver-tracking options.
Driver performance isn’t just about getting from A to B in the required amount of time; it’s also about protecting the vehicle and keeping other drivers and pedestrians as safe they possibly can be. In the days before internet of things (IoT) technology, companies had to rely heavily on drivers submitting their own reports, and this allowed said drivers to cover up their failures.
The development of telematics systems changed this. Each vehicle could be equipped with a telematics device to track various pieces of data concerning movement and distance covered. Once a trip was done, the data could be retrieved and used to gauge overall performance. This was clunky, though, and only allowed issues to be identified after the fact.
Now, IoT connectivity allows the use of telematics devices with always-on data connections. According to Icompario, there are myriad vehicle tracking systems on the market allowing real-time tracking and analysis. This means fuel, route or driving issues can be flagged up during a journey and relayed to the driver. The result? Greater safety and efficiency.
2. It’s steadily improving electric vehicles.
Moving away from fossil fuels helps make driving greener, and steady progress in the electric vehicle industry is increasingly making such vehicles viable for business purposes. Due largely to advancements in battery technology, electric trucks are now good enough to be rolled out across the world (here’s one example of such a rollout).
It all comes down to having the right financial incentives, and that actually makes green technology a better option for many corporations. Individuals might want to stick to what they know, whereas businesses don’t much care what equipment they use provided it is reliable and affordable. In addition, electric vehicles have fewer moving parts to break down, making them less likely to need maintenance.
The main obstacle is still the degradation of batteries, but technology is improving all the time (pushed along by companies like InoBot Auto), and it seems fairly likely that longer-lasting batteries will be produced soon enough.
3. It’s granting varied driver assistance.
Technology isn’t only helping drivers by allowing their performance to be monitored from a distance, it’s also making it safer to drive by facilitating myriad protective functions. Think about long-haul tips, for instance. Vehicles now can be equipped with self-driving features that can take over to some extent in the event that drivers fall asleep or are otherwise incapacitated.
They can be set to remind drivers to stop and take breaks at appropriate times. They can remind them to eat and hydrate. They can help them park, which is a process that can be distinctly unsafe when the vehicle being parked is immensely heavy. They also can make it harder for criminals to enter by using smart identification instead of conventional keys (ideally with biometrics involved — it took time to develop, but it’s viable).
It may be quite some time before self-driving cars can be relied upon to handle significant journeys (for now, automated navigation is best for things like cleaning). But until then, we’re going to see onboard systems becoming incrementally more safe and supportive, all in service of protecting drivers and cargo alike.
Stevie Nicks is digital editor at Just Another Magazine, a website that covers the topics related to lifestyle, travel, technology and current trends.