Tech changing roads and vehicles over next 5 years

Technology is moving many parts of the business universe forward, and this may not be more noticeable than in the automotive world.

New innovations seem to be in the works on a near-monthly basis in a bid for companies and car owners to find a greater range of assistance.

One of the key benefits of this to a fleet manager will be the prospect of reducing the cost and time that must be dedicated to running a business fleet.

If driverless cars are to take off in the next 10-20 years, for example, all companies with a presence on the road will be affected. Even if they don't utilise driverless technology as a business tool themselves, they will surely see a new challenge of sharing the road with fully automated vehicles.

However, we are some way off this innovation yet, and there are technological matters more close at hand that Australian fleet managers may need to address and prepare for.

The first is the increase of embedded vehicle telematics, which ABI Research has predicted will almost treble in size over the next five years.

The number of cars globally able to transmit data to one another - and giving drivers such valuable information as traffic updates and weather warnings - will grow from the 13.4 per cent it is at today to 52 per cent in 2020.

While the technology may help an individual car owner cut minutes off their commute, such on-the-go information connected across a fleet will have the potential to drastically cut costs through integrated fleet services.

For instance, a car stuck in heavy traffic will be able to transmit this data to fleet drivers further up the road, who will then be able to use a different route and reduce the overall amount of time they spend behind the wheel and burning fuel.

With cars becoming 'smarter' authorities are preparing for greater investment in advanced traffic management systems. A separate report from ABI suggests this part of the market will be worth US$10 billion globally by the end of the decade.

"What will really be required is a step change towards virtualising smart transportation solutions via in-vehicle technology, and cloud-based control systems, whereby information is sent directly to and from the car, bypassing physical roadside infrastructure all together," ABI Research Vice President Dominique Bonte explained this month.

With Toyota and Volvo exploring such developments today, fleet managers are expected to start understanding the cost-saving benefits of such technology sooner rather than later, and even integrating it into their fleet management programs.