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How Satellites Will Affect Smart Transport and Logistics

Posted July 21, 2018

Technology will have a major effect on the way we utilise our transport systems in the future. Data will be communicated back forth between vehicles and infrastructure in order to keep everything running efficiently.

Image credit: Innovate UK / YouTube screenshot

This data will communicate a variety of information, all of which will be responded to instantly. Satellites will be used to ensure reliable data transfer, especially in places where communication may be restricted.

These systems work as part of the Internet of Things (shortened to IoT), which looks to implement smart technology in order to increase efficiency, sustainability, and, in the case of the transport, safety.

In this guide we take a look at the benefits of smart transport technology, the statistics surrounding IoT deployment, and how space data is currently being implemented.

The Benefits of Smart Transport Technology

Smart technology has numerous benefits to our transport systems. These manifest themselves in several ways.

The communication between vehicles and infrastructure would contain data regarding a vehicle’s positioning, ideal routes, weather conditions, battery life and more.

Below are areas where the technology will have a large impact:

Public Transport

Public transport will work very differently in the future. The upkeep and maintenance will be far more efficient, as the satellites will transfer data to the local transfer hubs regarding the vehicle’s condition before any bigger issues arise. Routes will also be more interactive, and you can influence the route based on your time and location, as opposed to sticking to a fixed route.

Vehicle and Driver Communication

Your vehicle will communicate with you using the data from the satellites and transport hubs. Everything from weather conditions, issues with the route, and even driver fatigue will be relayed back to you, ensuring safer and more efficient journeys.

Ships and Ports

Similar to vehicle and driver communication, ships and ports can communicate through satellites to create safe and efficient deliveries. Containers can be remotely monitored, avoiding potential theft, and sensitive material can be kept safe. Ports can also monitor the ship’s journey in real-time, and in turn can request a ship to wait if the port is congested.

Traffic and Accident Management

If heavy traffic occurs, satellites can alert the closest transport hub, in turn alerting all vehicles who may be affected and provide alternative routes. When accidents happen, the severity will be known immediately so that emergency services are dispatched quickly enough (if needed).


Drones will have two main functions in the future. Firstly, they’ll be used to deliver everything possible, from pizzas to a brand new desk. They’ll be tracked to ensure a successful delivery.

Secondly, they’ll be the first response for road accidents, offering vital aid to those involved until the emergency services arrive.

Looking at the Statistics

Out of 100 large global transportation companies, just under half prioritise environmental monitoring, while less than a quarter had improved their sustainability due to IoT technology. Over half of these two groups are looking to become more sustainable in the future.

Based on these statistics, we can see IoT deployment making an impact, but the implementation of green technology needs to become more widespread in order to making a bigger impact across the globe.

Sustainability is extremely important. The potential number of CO2 emissions is looking to be extremely high if green technology isn’t widely implemented in our transport systems.

Current Implementation

Everything we’ve explained thus far isn’t solely about waiting for the future. Space data is currently being implemented in our transport systems.

For example, hazardous goods transported by unpowered assets are being tracked and monitored using satellite data, since it’s extremely difficult to monitor them in real time. Certain parameters are being monitored, ensuring safe and reliable journeys.

Other areas include winter road maintenance and intelligent cargo monitoring. Utilising both satellite navigation and imaging technology, we can control winter maintenance without requiring any manual intervention. Both these technologies can also be used to provide cost-effective ways of monitoring and controlling the supply chain of high value containers.

Another area of implementation is an on-demand courier service, where self-driven vehicles will deliver to you on-demand (meaning anything you order will arrive the same day). Satellite technology is heavily involved, and allows for higher efficiency and energy preservation.


Funding and support for any potential advances in the transport and logistics sector is available through ESA. Businesses will receive zero equity funding, assistant and access to their network.

Applications are open all year, so any businesses looking to use space to develop new commercial services are welcome at all times. Explore their funding opportunities here and be part of the future.

Source: Innovate UK

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