How the Internet of Things Has Optimized Transportation

Venkat Janapareddy

The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing in popularity and more and more companies are trying to get in on this new trend. Established companies and startups are creating their own products and services that are influenced by this new technology. One of the sectors that the IoT is moving into is transportation. Cars, road, trains, planes and every other form of transportation is becoming “smart” and getting connected. As a result, we are becoming safer, saving ourselves money and making our lives easier and more efficient.

The new Tesla S electric sedan is currently on the market for $70,000. While that might seem like a ridiculous price, just wait until you hear everything that it offers. In less than four seconds it can pick up from 0 MPH to 62 MPH. Running on electric charge, if you are running low on juice the car’s navigation system can lead you to the nearest charging station. The autopilot, which comes standard in all of these cars, uses a combination of camera, radar and 360-degree sonar sensors to automatically drive on open roads and in stop-and-go traffic. It also uses these sensors to find and back into parking spots, including parallel parking spots. The camera sensors can also read the road signs and warn drivers when they need to slow down. If you start to veer out of your lane then the driver’s seat will shake. In order to improve the car, it constantly sends data back to the company’s engineers. While this is an extreme example, as it is the most advanced car out on the market at the moment, it just goes to show the amazing things that the Internet of Things can do when it comes to our everyday transportation.

Sensors, which are powerful, compact, low-power, and wireless, are also being installed in our roads. They are measuring things like changes in temperature, traffic volume, humidity as well as other traffic and weather conditions. All of this data is collected and wirelessly transmitted to a server for analysis and processing purposes. The data will allow authorities to provide real time information about traffic and road conditions to drivers. During the winter months road maintenance can also be measured with this collected information. All of these little, what seem like insignificant sensors, will make our lives safer and easier.

The aviation industry is one of the most outdated industries when it comes to adopting new technologies. Nevertheless, airplanes are currently equipped with many sensors and smart devices to help maintain the plane. Sensors on planes collect data on fuel efficiency, altitude, location, and maintenance issues. This data is wirelessly transmitted to both the pilots and workers on the ground so that they can be ready to service the plane in whatever way is necessary even before the plane lands. As a result, flight delays and cancellations have been significantly decreased.

The railroad business is also, slowly, moving towards new technologies. As with planes, many trains are being installed with sensors to tell workers if the train needs maintenance or are in threat of a nearby landslide or flooding. Research shows that these new technologies will significantly reduce the estimated 1.3 million hours that workers currently spend on rail inspections. In New York City, sensors have been installed on the tracks so that we know exactly where trains are, which means that the gaps between trains don’t have to be as large. This allows more trains to run on the busy route- up to 26 per hour, instead of only 15.

Shipping is also hopping on the IoT bandwagon. Trucks used to have to wait around at busy ports for the ships with their cargo to get in. Now, many of the 9 million containers moving through ports transmit and constantly update their precise arrival times so that trucks can plan to be there just in time. Another system allows trucks to even book a parking spot, so they don’t have to drive around searching for one.

The Internet of Things has significantly improved our transportation in the last few years. With every transportation industry starting to implement these technologies more and more we will see even better improvements in our transportation. Our everyday movement from place to place will become safer, easier and more efficient right before our eyes.