Innovations and Start-ups: Zero-Emission Trucking, Drones, and Technological Disruption

Martijn Graat
Martijn Graat

Trends and innovations in supply chain and logistics. That’s what this blog is all bout. Therefore I bring you an overview of my highlights of the news this week on logistics start-ups and innovations below. Follow @LogisticsMatter on Twitter to stay up to date with the latest news and the best background stories. Last week it was Uber for Trucking, Autonomous Freight, and Drones. This week it’s Uber for Trucking, Autonomous Freight, Drones, and more…

Sustainable Development (~ Yonderboi)

The world is seeing more extreme temperatures, both highs and lows, the ice in Antarctica is breaking apart. It is time to do something about this, and it’s a good thing to see companies making it a part of their business model. An excellent example for me is the zero-emission transport company BREYTNER, of its founders were guests on the Does Logistics Matter? podcast recently.

There are more developments and innovations in trucking that are aimed at transporting goods via road, with less impact on the environment. Trucking start-up Nikola is working on various models of electric trucks with ranges starting at 300 miles for a battery-electric model, and fuel cell models with ranges up to 900 miles. The first battery-electric model, the Tre cabover will be handed over to and tested by Anheuser-Busch in 2022. The fuel-cell models will go into production in late 2024.

There are many companies, both established car manufacturers as well as startups that are developing electric vehicles. Bloomberg reported earlier this week that many electric vehicle makers are using Special Purpose Acquisition Companies to raise money for the development of their vehicles.

Fly Like an Eagle (~ Seal)

Or like a dragonfly! Because that is what engineers are studying to build the next generation of drones. It’s not to say that the next drones will look like dragonflies, but studies like this are necessary to discover new approaches to how drones can fly. One of the potential applications here a reduction in computational effort and energy that goes into keeping flying vehicles stable.

There are many companies working on drones that can be used to deliver freight. A few were in the news this week, like Wingcopter. Wingcopter recently raised $22 million in funding and earlier this week announced that they will be joining the Flying Labs Network. Flying Labs Network is an unmanned earial systems project for both local cargo drones and longer range operations. It aims to improve logistics in hard to reach regions in countries in Africa, Asia and Latin-America.

Start-ups AgEagle Aerial Systems and Valqari, chose a completely other environment to prove its capabilities when it comes to delivering cargo. They chose what golfers know as Hole 19. At a country club in Sun City, Arizona AgEagle’s drone delivered drinks and snacks to Valqari’s drone delivery station at the hole. Valqari has developed a drone delivery mailbox solution where drones can deliver packages directly into a secure box.

The United States Navy is also testing autonomous aerial supply drones. In a recent demostration they tested the delivery of equipment to an aircraft carrier at sea. Ships at sea are hard to resupply and, like remote region in Africa, they are relatively easy to reach by drone.

Ayo Technology (~ 50 Cent)    and other news…

Unlike the man in the hit song by 50 Cent, the logistics industry is far from tired of technology. It is just getting started. Logistics companies are turning into data companies, and technologies like the Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Blockchain are changing how logistics is being done. According to Scott Sureddin, North America CEO of DHL Supply Chain, the logistics sector is ripe for major disruption.

Deloitte agrees, at least where it comes to logistics companies turning into data companies. A recent survey they did revealed that 80% of executives in plan investments in data-drive decision making technology. They also see a large potential when it comes to artificial intelligence and machine learning, they are also noting that the industry is lagging in the adoption of these next-gen technologies.

Other interesting news items I came across this week were about a Walmart e-commerce alum that debuted a delivery start-up for luxury goods. ReverseLogix raised $20 million to further develop their platform to automate reverse logistics for e-commerce brands, which is still a money drain for many of these companies. And finally an article that brings together various of the developments described in this blog post: 10 investors predict MaaS, on-demand delivery and EVs will dominate mobility’s post-pandemic future

Header Image by Boris Smokrovic on Unsplash

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