Mathematical investigation on the sustainability of UAV logistics

Joonyup Eun, Byung Duk Song, Sangbok Lee, Dae Eun Lim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are expected to make groundbreaking changes in the logistics industry. Leading logistics companies have been developing and testing their usage of UAVs recently as an environmentally friendly and cost-effective option. In this paper, we investigate how much the UAV delivery service is environmentally friendly compared to the traditional ground vehicle (GV) delivery service. Since there are fuel (battery) and loadable weight restrictions in the UAV delivery, multi-hopping of UAV is necessary, which may cause a large consumption of electrical energy. We present a two-phase approach. In Phase I, a new vehicle routing model to obtain optimal delivery schedules for both UAV-alone and GV-alone delivery systems is proposed, which considers each system's restrictions, such as the max loadable weight and fuel replenishment. In Phase II, CO2 emissions are computed as a sustainability measure based on the travelling distance of the optimal route obtained from Phase I, along with various GV travel-speeds. A case study finds that the UAV-alone delivery system is much more CO2 efficient in all ranges of the GV speeds investigated.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5932
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number21
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Nov 1


  • Green vehicle routing
  • Sustainability of unmanned aerial vehicles
  • Unmanned aerial vehicle logistics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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