Transportation has become one of the most frequently highlighted areas where the internet of things can improve our lives. Specifically, a lot of people are excited about the IoT's potential to further the progress toward entire networks of self-driving cars. We hear a lot about the tech companies that are involved in building self-driving cars, but it's the IoT that will actually allow these vehicles to operate. In fact, CNET quoted one IoT expert just last year as saying that because of the expanding IoT, self-driving cars will rule the roads by 2030.
On a much smaller scale, there are also some niche applications of the IoT that are designed to fix specific problems on the road. For instance, many companies have looked to combat distracted driving by teenagers through IoT-related tools. As noted by PC World, one device called the Smartwheel monitors teens' driving activity by sensing when they're keeping both hands on the wheel. The device sounds an alert when a hand comes off the wheel and communicates to a companion app that compiles reports on driver performance. This is a subtle way in which the IoT helps young drivers develop better habits.
In a way, these examples cover both extremes of the effect the IoT is having on drivers. One is a futuristic idea that's being slowly implemented to alter the very nature of road transportation. The other is an application for individuals meant to make drivers safer one by one. But there are also some IoT-related tools that fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. One is an exciting new app that seeks to make the roads safer for the thousands of shipping fleet drivers operating on a daily basis.
At first this might sound like a niche category. However, the reality is that the innumerable companies and agencies relying shipping and transportation fleets have a ton of drivers to take care of. That means supervising vehicle performance, safety, and more for each and every one of them. That process comprises a significant portion of road activity, particularly in cities and on highways. These operations are able to be simplified and streamlined through Networkfleet Driver, which Verizon describes as a tool to help employees manage routes, maintenance, communication, and driving habits all in one place.
The app can communicate up-to-date routing changes or required stops, inform drivers of necessary vehicle repairs or upkeep, and handle communication from management. It can also make note of dangerous habits (like a tendency to speed or make frequent sudden stops), helping the driver to identify bad habits and helping managers to recommend safer performance. All of this is accomplished through various IoT sensors on vehicles interacting automatically with the app, and with systems that can be monitored by management.
The positive effect, while difficult to quantify, is substantial. Fleet drivers make up a significant portion of road activity, and through the use of the IoT we can make sure that the roads are safer for everyone.