The Multiple Flying Sidekicks Traveling Salesman Problem: Parcel Delivery with Multiple Drones

45 Pages Posted: 12 Mar 2019 Last revised: 29 Jul 2019

See all articles by Chase Murray

Chase Murray

University at Buffalo

Ritwik Raj

University at Buffalo

Date Written: July 27, 2019

Abstract

This paper considers a last-mile delivery system in which a delivery truck operates in coordination with a fleet of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs, or drones). Deploying UAVs from the truck enables customers located further from the depot to receive drone-based deliveries. The problem is first formulated as a mixed integer linear program (MILP). However, owing to the computational complexity of this problem, only trivially-sized problems may be solved directly via the MILP. Thus, a heuristic solution approach that consists of solving a sequence of three subproblems is proposed. Extensive numerical testing demonstrates that this approach effectively solves problems of practical size within reasonable runtimes. Additional analysis quantifies the potential time savings associated with employing multiple UAVs. The analysis also reveals that additional UAVs may have diminishing marginal returns. An analysis of five different endurance models demonstrates the effects of these models on UAV assignments. The model and heuristic also support anticipated future systems that feature automation for UAV launch and retrieval.

Keywords: unmanned aerial vehicle, drone, vehicle routing problem, traveling salesman problem, logistics, integer programming, heuristics

Suggested Citation

Murray, Chase and Raj, Ritwik, The Multiple Flying Sidekicks Traveling Salesman Problem: Parcel Delivery with Multiple Drones (July 27, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3338436 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3338436

Chase Murray (Contact Author)

University at Buffalo

Industrial & Systems Engineering
341 Bell Hall
Buffalo, NY 14260
United States

Ritwik Raj

University at Buffalo

Department of Industrial & Systems Engineering
341 Bell Hall
Buffalo, NY 14260
United States

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