Research: efficiency in the last-mile of autonomous vehicles with lockers

Recent research aims to compare autonomous ground vehicles with conventional and electric vans based on associated vehicle costs and benefits related to their use, considering economic feasibility. Cost per vehicle kilometer is derived using the total cost of ownership method adjusted with the inclusion of labor costs and the impact of solar panel application on fuel efficiency. At the same time, travel time-related, capacity occupations, and reliability benefits are a basis for the total possible number of parcels delivered.

This study defines autonomous ground vehicles (Wheeled sidewalk pods, drones, and autonomous ground vehicles, AGVs) with lockers as an innovative last-mile solution. It contributes to the academic literature by investigating the concept’s efficiency competitiveness.

The results show that, under the current structural and infrastructural conditions of urban delivery, the experimental model can be potentially successful in terms of cost per kilometer (0.133/km) but not as effective regarding the total possible number of parcels delivered. The importance of the research brings novelty to the often-neglected labor costs of vehicle drivers despite being the most significant cost segment for non-autonomous vehicles, simultaneously representing the potential savings in the case of AGVs. 

This research has the limitation of the absence of accurate operational data for AGVs; hence, it utilized, based on reasonable assumptions, data related to the usage of cargo bi-cycles in last-mile delivery conditions. An actual case study on AGVs would improve the reliability of AGV comparison and is therefore highly advised.

Financial benefits for electric vehicles will expire in 2026, which may increase electric vehicle ownership costs. Therefore, the given research could be repeated in 5 years with modernized vehicle models of all types and their new usage conditions, updated subsidy politics attributed to electric vehicles, and consideration for possible autonomy-related investment allowances from the Dutch government. It will also allow for a better assessment of the distribution structure of different cost segments and their change patterns over time while simultaneously examining the prerequisites and drivers behind the changes.

The researchers also suggest further research on technology and its environmental sustainability capabilities.

Source: Levkovych, O., & Saraceni, A. (2022). Efficiency in the Last Mile of Autonomous Ground Vehicles with Lockers: From Conventional to Renewable Energy Transport. Sustainability, 15(23), 16219.

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