Hovakimyan kicks off NSF project to test package delivery via drones, ride-sharing vehicles
February 1 marked the kick off for Professor Naira Hovakimyan and colleagues at Stanford and the University of South Carolina for their National Science Foundation-funded study to see if drones and existing ride-sharing vehicles (RSVs) can provide synergetic delivery service in urban areas. While the major players – Amazon, UPS, and the United States Postal Service – are developing their own network of cars and drones, their solutions that deliver one package to one customer at a time are not scalable, so they have a vested interest in the outcome of Hovakimyan’s study.
The much-anticipated project, “SYNergetic DROne delivery network in MEtropolis,” will look into integration of parcel delivery drones with the ground vehicles on the road to optimize the time of delivery. Unlike existing approaches developed by postal services that aim to use their own vehicles and drones, this approach would be far more scalable because it would take advantage of the already available cars on the road. Drivers who participate will be offered a payment as an incentive.
The technical thrusts include challenges such as predicting traffic patterns, control of vehicles over random networks, rendezvous with moving vehicles, people’s perception of safety in the presence of flying vehicles, optimization of complex systems with multiple constraints, robust control, and path planning of multiple vehicles in the presence of numerous constraints. Training of the future workforce on this challenging framework will produce broad-minded and synergetic scholars, capable of working across multiple disciplines under tough deadlines.