Title: Value of Autonomous Vehicles for Last-Mile Delivery in Urban to Rural Settings


Abstract: This talk explores the value of autonomous vehicles in mitigating the challenges of last-mile delivery across urban to rural settings. The Capacitated Autonomous Vehicle Assisted Delivery Problem (CAVADP) uses an autonomous vehicle to pick up and drop off a delivery person, avoiding the need to find parking. The analysis begins by consider a complete grid of customers, a reasonable assumption for urban environments where the time to find parking is expected to be high. I characterize the optimal solution based on the number of customers, driving speed of the vehicle, walking speed of the delivery person, and the time for loading packages. I present a polynomial-time algorithm for the CAVADP on a complete grid. To consider other customer geographies, I model the CAVADP as a mixed integer program on a general graph. To solve this problem to optimality, model improvements are necessary to control the number of variables and the size of the branch-and-bound tree. I exploit the structure of the optimal solution to develop preprocessing techniques and valid inequalities. To build insights across urban to rural settings, I present a case study to show the value of using autonomous vehicles relative to standard delivery with parking. Autonomous vehicle assisted delivery leads to increased productivity for the delivery person in all customer geographies. In particular, a delivery person saves more time on the delivery tour in urban environments than rural environments.

Bio: Sara Reed is a Ph.D. candidate in the Applied Mathematical and Computational Sciences interdisciplinary Ph.D. program at the University of Iowa. Her research has been conducted in the Department of Business Analytics in the Tippie College of Business under the supervision of Professor Ann Campbell and Professor Barrett Thomas. She will defend her dissertation in Spring 2021. Her research interests are in transportation logistics. Her dissertation focuses on determining the value of autonomous values in last-mile delivery. In addition, she has research interests in food rescue operations. Sara is a member of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS) and was the president of the INFORMS Iowa Student Chapter that received the Cum Laude Award in 2020.  This year, she received first place in the Bayer Women in Operations Research scholarship from the INFORMS Analytics Society. Sara obtained a Certificate in Graduate Teaching from the University of Iowa. She received her MS in Mathematics from the University of Iowa and her BA in Mathematics and Economics/Finance from Simpson College.