Following the internet’s lead: a logistics network for greater efficiency
One idea proposed by the futurologists is to cater for the growing volume of goods by switching to a ‘synchromodal’ transport system. Synchromodal is a portmanteau of ‘syncro’, meaning occurring at the same time, and ‘intermodal’, referring to multiple means of transport. The model for this system, in which goods are split up into smaller units and transported via different routes, is one of the greatest technological achievement of the past 50 years: the internet and its forerunners.
Most traffic over the internet uses packet switching, which works on the following principle: before being sent, a message is split into different sub-messages, each of which is given a sequential number so that they can be put back together again at the end of the process for the recipient of the message. Along the way, a network of interconnected nodes or ‘hubs’ route the sub-messages to the intended address. “A similar solution might also be conceivable for the transport of physical goods – which is why, in the world of transportation, we talk about the physical internet,” says futurologist Kaup when explaining his model of synchromodal transport. The more vehicles, goods and road users that are integrated into the system, the better it will work.
' By 2050 the volume of goods that are transported will have increased by around 55 percent. That just wouldn't be possible with today's traffic infrastructure. '
Steffen Kaup, Head of the Transport and Logistics Future Research team in Daimler's Group Research unit