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Project overview

Given the ever-growing demand for products and services that in turn generate freight activity in our cities, there is a need to fundamentally investigate how mixed land-and-Un-crewed Air Vehicle (UAV) logistics fleets can be successfully integrated and managed to improve customer service, reduce energy demand and also address urban traffic congestion. The greatest barrier to the wider adoption of UAVs into logistics fleets is the current lack of integration of UAVs within civil airspace.

The research vision is to critically examine the energy reduction potential, using a case study and trials based around NHS patient diagnostic sample, pharmacy and blood transportation, of integrated logistics solutions involving UAVs operating in shared airspace and alongside traditional and sustainable last-mile delivery solutions (vans, cargo cycles, walking porters via micro-consolidation points).

Measurable objectives:

1) Investigate the collective transport and energy impacts of current 'business-as-usual' NHS patient diagnostic sample, pharmacy and blood transportation logistics across the Solent region.

2) Develop new simulation tools to quantify the energy consumption of UAVs and land logistics systems resulting from: i) potential new types of traffic regulation for shared airspace; ii) UAV collision and dynamic automated path re-planning stipulations; iii) conflict-resolution rules; iv) types of permitted coordination; v) the availability and positioning of ground logistics systems and infrastructure to effectively interact with and service UAVs.

3) Evaluate using the simulation tools and trials the impact on air space and energy use of the take-up of UAVs for medical logistics across the Solent region.

4) Develop fundamental new understandings of stakeholder concerns and the regulatory and governance needs associated with UAV interventions that realise energy benefits in logistics.


Lead researcher

Professor Tom Cherrett

Head of Department

Research interests

  • Understanding and improving the distribution of goods and the management of freight vehicles in urban areas, including the supply of goods to hospitals and the use of consolidation centres; 
  • How optimisation techniques can be used to improve system efficiency and in what ways Intelligent Transport Systems (smart tagging of assets and the use of smartphones) can improve operating efficiency; 
  • Approaches to more effectively collect and manage the movement of waste in terms of both household domestic waste collection strategies, Household Waste Recycling Centre (HWRC) management and joint domestic/commercial waste collection strategies. He has worked on a number of research projects in these specific areas: (Department for Transport grant PPAD 9/142/034, ‘Optimising vehicles undertaking waste collections' GR/S79626/01, SUE project 55 ‘Transport and Logistics'; EP/D043328/1, ‘Green Logistics'.
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Other researchers

Dr Matt Grote

Research Fellow Transport & the Envirmt

Research interests

  • Mitigating road traffic impacts
  • Sustainable aviation
  • Practical modelling methods
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Dr Andy Oakey BEng, PhD

Research Fellow
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Professor James Scanlan

Professor of Design
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