A Mack LM Model truck in use by West Oil Co of Detroit Mack Trucks

Flashback for the future of freight

I’ve spent my career in transportation creating and implementing new products that take advantage of technology to improve freight transportation. I’ve had the opportunity to work on aircraft, submarines, conveyors, trucks, trailers, trains, and satellites. What we have done to move material and freight in this world is astounding.

Yet, even today, people walk miles with jugs on their head to bring water to a village in Africa. Beasts of burden are still used to pull wagons. Wheel barrows with a single wheel still move material for construction workers and landscapers. Bicycles and motor scooters are the preferred method of delivering freight in some crowded cities. Whether it is no wheels, one wheel, two wheels, 4 wheels, the classic 18-wheeler of trucking, or the hundreds of wheels of a train, freight must be moved. 

That got me to thinking a bit about the past, as we write, legislate, and project the future of freight transport with such things as drones, autonomous vehicles, last-mile delivery, smart trailers, hyper loops under the ground and more. A little research on the past for powered freight transport leads me to believe 2020 is not just a good term for perfect eye sight and a perfect vision of the future. It seems, 2020 is also the 250th anniversary of powered freight transport.

Here’s a brief, very brief, history of powered freight transport to consider:

The next 10-15 years are going to see significant milestones in powered freight transport. 250 years for steam powered trucks and ships, 225 years for steam powered trains, 125 years for internal combustion powered truck and powered flight. As we look to the future of powered freight transport, let’s not just remember the past, but learn from the past to improve the future.

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