The Future of Courier Services in an Increasingly Technological Age: Predicting the Future Up to 2035 by Speedy Freight

Speedy Freight, part of the Stobart Group, have taken a look at what the future holds for couriers, predicting up to 2035. With company members sharing their thoughts and views on what Britain's roads will look like and the impact this will have on the industry.

Cheshire, United Kingdom, November 16, 2020 --( At times like these, any prediction on the future of Britain’s roads is not one that can be made with any certainty. With the nation currently enduring one of its biggest crises in a century, technological developments are being made faster than ever before that could impact on how Britain’s roads, and courier services in particular might look in 2035.

While technological advances in transport have not quite matched those predicted for the future on the big screen (hover cars as predicted for 2019 in the Ridley Scott film Blade Runner, or time-travelling Deloreans as predicted for 2015 in Robert Zemeckis’ Back to the Future haven’t quite happened yet), nonetheless there have been many huge advances made in travel tech. Self-driving cars, hybrid and electric vehicles and even drones are just a few of the amazing advances made, with many more still to come to full fruition, all of which will have a major impact on the roads and, consequently, courier services.

With environmental changes on the horizon, too, Britain will see diesel and petrol vehicles being phased out, with only room for greener vehicles on our roads. All this and more could be in store in just a decade or two from now.

According to Rolls-Royce, freight transport is predicted to triple by 2050. But how does this align with a greener, more automated future? Greener, automated logistics could mean that as freight numbers rise, the environmental consequences continue to fall. Nikola, Tesla’s truck-based rivals, say that interest in clean trucking remains high with over 14,000 pre-orders for its hydrogen fuel-cell truck placed over the past few months.

So what impact is all this going to have and what position might courier services be by 2035? National same day couriers Speedy Freight, have taken a look into their crystal ball to make some predictions on the impact that new delivery technology might have on business and delivery services in future and whether this could mean a cleaner, greener future for freight.

Automated Freight

Many people are predicting that drones could put traditional delivery companies at risk, but Gerwyn Hopkins, a South Wales Franchisee from Speedy Freight, is more upbeat. Gerwyn says, “I agree with some of the predictions made about the use of drones, but think they will only be used to replace the smaller non-delicate parcels. I think most of our type of freight will still need the personal touch, and a dedicated service.”

Jay Milling, Exeter, Plymouth and Cornwall Franchisee, actually thinks that the impact on courier companies like Speedy Freight could be a beneficial one.

He says, “I don’t think drone deliveries will impact our business at all, except increasing our potential driver pool. Drone usage will be effective with small parcels, not even packages. This could impact the number of drivers that the companies who specialise in 100 drop and more routes actually need, meaning there will be an increased labour pool.”

While there is a belief among some in the industry that drone deliveries could make smaller couriers obsolete, the low carrying capacity and complex safety aspects means that they might only be able to be used for emergency situations.

Greener Machines

The situation is clearer when it comes to use of greener vehicles and smart technology. With society becoming more and more eco-conscious, and the fact that one-third of the UK’s carbon emissions come from transport (, it’s probably no surprise that everyone’s vehicles may change drastically from the petrol and diesel-powered vehicles that many people use today. The UK’s target of zero carbon emissions by 2035 is projected to mean a ban on the sale of all petrol and diesel vehicles by the same year (, leaving people only able to buy electric or hydrogen cars and vans.

By 2035, it’s therefore highly likely that most vehicles will be electric, or some form of hybrid or self-charging technology, and as more investment makes these batteries longer-lasting, these will become the norm.

The impact of a greener freight movement in particular, will change the wider environment and the social conditions in cities. The government, in line with the EU transport policy, is likely to call for urban transport, including freight, to be part of their zero-emissions pledge, which requires investment into electric vehicles.

All motorways, and most "A" roads, will likely incorporate some form of smart technology, and though vehicles won’t necessarily be driverless, it is widely predicted that driver aides will be there for automatically adjusting speeds, following distances, and corrections for unexpected lane diversions.

It is quite possible that there will be more self-driving trucks utilising motorways, and being driverless from lorry park to lorry park, and then being collected by drivers. These could potentially become similar to multi-trailer trains, pulling 4-5 trailers overnight over long distances.

When it comes to self-driving vehicles, Jay Milling believes that smart technology will be more relevant to long distance deliveries. He says, “Self-driving cars will provide technology that will be used in long distance trucks much more than smaller trucks and vans. Self-driving vehicles will only be sufficiently safe on open stretches of roads with very few entrances and exits, and plenty of allowance for slight deviations and braking distances. I think the application will be minimal within the UK, but will be a genuine option for larger countries with 1,000 mile plus purpose-built road networks.”

Jay continues, “I believe electric and hybrid cars will naturally move into vans and larger vehicles and that will only be a good thing. We all have a responsibility to reduce our carbon footprints and moving away from being totally reliant on fossil fuels will be a massive USP if we can get there.”

What about automated and eco-friendly?

Simon Chorlton, Doncaster, Hull and York Franchisee, concurs with the view that the motorways are the place where self-driving will likely be utilised more in future.

“Regarding self-driving lorry trains utilising the motorway, I see this as the easiest way to introduce self-driving vehicles from an industry perspective. Motorways have no pedestrians, separated carriageways, multiple lanes and only a few set stopping and joining/exit points therefore making it easier from a self-driving vehicle perspective, so I can easily imagine the public being more open to this initially,” says Simon.

Warehouse automation will also play an increasingly important role, and will impact on how courier businesses like Speedy Freight interact with their customers in future.

“Fully automated warehouses are pretty close to being reality now, and for uniformly packaged and easily handled items they will continue to grow in popularity. They will impact our business to an extent in that our interaction with shipping clerks and warehouse personnel will become less frequent,” predicts Jay.

“It will mean that our drivers will have to be willing to change and adapt to checking things in and out electronically. Proper safeguards will need to be developed, in tandem with the picking and packing, to quickly identify and correct errors so there is always an indisputable trail showing what is loaded and unloaded on vehicles.

"With green targets getting ever more challenging, the use of more environmentally-friendly vehicles will help businesses stand out, and give them a competitive edge over other organisations. By outsourcing transportation to greener operators, these choices can be beneficial to the companies who utilise them," says Jay.

“Most companies have a corporate responsibility agenda, and being able to provide genuine environmentally friendly options will have sustained impact with our customers. It won’t happen quickly but it will happen, and by utilising owner drivers and recognising and rewarding drivers who invest in the most environmentally neutral vehicles Speedy Freight can lead from the front. Outsourcing to Speedy Freight will enable our customers to improve their 'green' credentials without having to replace their own fleet of vehicles.”

Speedy Freight is the nation’s favourite same day and next day courier, providing support across all industries in the UK.
Speedy Freight
Aimee Spilsbury