A Competition-Based Route Network Planning Method for Drone Delivery Services in Cities
27 Pages Posted: 25 Feb 2023
Unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV)-based commercial services, exemplified by drone delivery, have captured wide interest in tech companies, entrepreneurs, and policymakers. Structured route-based UAV operations have been implemented for traffic management of UAVs in support of commercial delivery services in cities. Yet, its essence, multi-path planning with constraints is not well solved in the existing literature. Centralized planning might result in inefficiencies and unfairness in the allocation of precious urban airspace to individual routes. This paper describes a novel competition-based route planning method to support UAV operations in a high-density urban environment. The method allows each origin-destination (OD) pair to compete against other OD pairs for an optimized route (e.g. shortest distance), coordinated by a system-level evaluation, leading to a network design that maximizes the performance of not only the individual routes but also the entire system. The core concept is the introduction of congestion costing, a soft constraint to coordinate the allocation of airspace. The method is tested in standard 2D scenarios and compared with other state-of-the-art methods. The results show that 1) the method is able to generate routes with short individual distances as well as occupying the least airspace by the route network; 2) in some complex scenarios, the method is able to find a solution in a short period of time while other state-of-the-art method fails. The method has also been applied to a real urban environment (Mong Kok in Hong Kong) to demonstrate its capability.
Keywords: unmanned aerial vehicle, drone delivery, traffic management, multi-path planning, route network design
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