MechSE Professor, director of Intelligent Robotics Lab Naira Hovakimyan and her six-person team are working on a study that focuses on possible joint delivery service by drones and ride-sharing vehicles (RSVs).
Three institutions are involved in the study: University of Illinois, Stanford University, and University of South Carolina.
The USD 1.5 million U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded study is to see if drones and existing ride-sharing vehicles (RSVs) can provide synergetic delivery service in urban areas.
“A drone might take off from a delivery center carrying a package, rendezvous with an Uber or mass transit vehicle using magnets to dock to the roofs of these vehicles even while in motion, and drop off the package. Another drone close to the final destination would then intercept the package and take it directly to the doorstep of the consumer,” the scientists explain.
“By taking advantage of the existing network, we are addressing a complex mathematical problem, and if we address it correctly, we drop the delivery costs a few times. In the future the drivers may get a payment for simply agreeing to have packages dropped off on their vehicles. The car is driving along the same route anyway,” said Naira Hovakimyan.
According to her, the packages using the system would be light initially, from 5 to 10 pounds. The weight limit would eventually increase.
Professor Hovakimyan’s team also plans to work with major companies on further stages of development on the project.