Mathematical Model Showed Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Can Reduce Costs by 48.3 Percent and CO2 Emissions by 19.7 Percent in Parcel Deliveries, Especially Under Congested Traffic.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Delivering Parcels Modeled as a Vehicle Routing Problem Estimated to Lead to Productivity and Environmental Benefits.

Date Posted

Impact of UAV Delivery on Sustainability and Costs under Traffic Restrictions

Summary Information

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) can perform parcel delivery tasks with less energy consumption and less greenhouse gas emissions than traditional delivery services, thereby offering environmental benefits. Another advantage of UAVs is that they can bypass congested traffic. Given this view, this study proposed a Genetic Algorithm (GA) to efficiently solve the complex parcel routing problem with UAV either minimizing total cost or CO2 emissions, and an experimental analysis was conducted to illustrate the algorithm. 


The study used a computer programming software tool to carry out an experiment and test the UAV routing model and GA with two restrictions: 1) deliveries are assumed to be completed within one working day consisting of eight hours, and 2) fuel consumption or CO2 emission are minimized. The experiment assumed 20, 200, 300, and 400 customers in different scenarios, a range of one-10 pounds for parcel size and a 10-mile or less delivery distance. A 2019 study was used as reference for parameters pertaining to UAV versus truck delivery, such as vehicle weights, speeds, traffic congestion indices, travel costs, etc., to perform comparative calculations. A 2018 study was used as a reference to obtain energy and CO2 emission rates. 


Table. Percent reduction in CO2 emissions and total cost comparing deliveries with and without UAV.
  Reduction in CO2 (%) Reduction in total cost (%)
200-customer 9.20 6.65
300-customer 19.67 48.28
400-customer 10.62 34.23
Results Type