A Case Study in Last-Mile Delivery Concepts for Parcel Robots using Delivery Optimization Software

This study was designed to evaluate innovative last-mile delivery concepts involving autonomous parcel robots with simulation and optimization. In the proposed concept, the last mile of parcel delivery is split into a two-tiered system, where parcels are first transported to a transfer point by conventional trucks and then delivered with parcel robots on customer demand.

The purpose of this publication is to compare different time slot selection options for customers, namely due window and on demand selection, in the context of city logistics measures such as access regulations and driving bans for city centers. The researchers use AnyLogic as delivery optimization software. They build an agent-based simulation model, including a Geographic Information System environment and optimization algorithms for allocation and scheduling of delivery robots. The concept is tested in a comprehensive case study located in the city center of Cologne (Germany) based on real data from the parcel delivery company Hermes.

Due to upcoming driving bans in city centers throughout Europe, alternative solutions for parcel delivery companies gain interest. Therefore, using delivery optimization software this study investigates the effects of substituting traditional truck deliveries by autonomous robots in a city center.

A two-tiered delivery system is observed, in which parcels are not directly delivered by conventional trucking. On the first tier, a single truck transports all parcels from a hub to a set of micro-depots, which are located in the neighborhood of the customers, and from there a set of autonomous robots perform the last leg of the last mile. We assume that each robot has a one-unit capacity and drives at walking speed on sidewalks.

State chart of a parcel robot designed with delivery optimization software

Agent-based simulation state chart of a parcel robot

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