In spite of its longstanding history and experience, transportation by road, air, sea or rail has so far struggled to meet the dual objective of catering to increased freight or passenger volumes whilst also reducing atmospheric pollution. Clean transport is consequently a key challenge which, fuelled by the explosive growth of technology, has given rise to new, more eco-friendly or alternative solutions: drones, delivery robots, electric two-wheelers, driverless freight shuttles, trams, Hyperloop, etc...
Because traditional modes of transport are no longer sufficient, new solutions today off er a glimpse of the future of world logistics
What proposals for the ecology transition of transport?
The vast majority of alternative solutions rely on non-polluting electric power but offer shorter ranges, thus reducing attainable distances compared with those of conventional transport modes. Drones, for example, offer a way around the drawbacks of roads and make it possible to make deliveries in hard-to-reach areas over short distances.
A multitude of projects and prototypes have resulted in the organisation of regular flights, in particular at DHL and amazon. In china for example, DHL launched an urban delivery service in may this year out of its logistics centre in the city of Guangzhou, with drones capable of carrying parcels of up to 5 kg over an average distance of 8 km.
In Europe, Mercedes is working on the integration of a drone or a delivery robot in its futuristic concept Vision Van. elsewhere, autonomous robots could assist the deliverer in handling heavy parcels, or even automatically fill connected parcel lockers, for example. Another point of interest is the development of environmentally friendly deliveries by electric bike or scooter which, while they remain negligible on a world scale, nevertheless create competition for some retail or food delivery services.
Freight metro and Hyperloop
Other innovative modes are under investigation, most notably at Siemens, which plans to incorporate an urban freight delivery function into its fully-automatic metros which could be used for courier services, online retail or fresh products.
The aim is to combine passenger and parcel transport by incorporating robotic containers that can load and unload in the space of a few seconds. The future might also belong to transport capsules, as illustrated by the Hyperloop project which is
making steady progress. Launched in 2013, this train running on magnetic levitation is a potential substitute to air travel, enabling the carbon-free transportation of people and goods at a theoretical speed of 1,200 km/h.
Hyperloop is still work in progress and requires massive investment, but in early June this year, the company Hyperloop Transportation Technologies presented the European Commission with the first set of regulations for the project. This series of directives, drawn up in association with TÜV SÜD, stems from the main safety requirements developed and presented by HyperloopTT.
This is the first essential step in the launch of the Hyperloop system regulation process by the European Union.