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Modeling the Sustainability of Commercial Vehicle Technologies - Phase 1, UAVs

Modeling the Sustainability of Commercial Vehicle Technologies
Miguel Andres Figliozzi, Ph.D. (PI)
Professor, Civil & Environmental Engineering
Portland State University

Proposal Summary and Objectives

The integration of more sustainable vehicles in goods distribution and service delivery depends on a number of factors related to vehicle costs, technology, infrastructure, energy sources, and financial incentives (Feng and Figliozzi, 2012). Energy cost Rfluctuations and the rapid evolution of vehicle types and engine technologies creates a highly uncertain environment. Problems and issues faced by policymakers, transportation planners, and private companies are rapidly evolving over time. In addition, new vehicle technologies such as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones have the potential to disrupt last mile deliveries and supply chains.

The comparison of conventional diesel vehicles and cleaner vehicles is not straightforward because there are substantial trade-offs regarding vehicles costs, payload, range, and supporting infrastructure. The comparison is even more complex regarding UAVs since this is a new vehicle type and technology. There is scant or no research that addresses the fundamental environmental, logistics and cost trade-offs associated with the widespread adoption of UAVs for last mile deliveries.

The main goal of this project is to develop robust tools and models to analyze UAVs environmental, logistical, and cost tradeoffs. More specifically, the research project will: (1) review and analyze key UAV characteristics, limitations, and capabilities, (2) model and compare UAV and conventional ground vehicle lifecycle emissions and sustainability aspects, (3) model and compare UAV operational and long-term costs, and (4) analyze the potential impacts of widespread UAV adoption on freight planning models and tools.

Funding Amount: $130,000
Status: Complete
Duration: Nov. 30 , 2016 - Nov. 29, 2018

Final Report