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Transportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment

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Drone aircraft, Carbon dioxide -- Environmental aspects, Energy consumption, Electric vehicles, Tricycles


There are no studies that model the potential effectiveness of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) or drones to reduce CO2e lifecycle (including both utilization and vehicle phase) emissions when compared to conventional diesel vans, electric trucks, electric vans, and tricycles. This study presents a novel analysis of lifecycle UAV and ground commercial vehicles CO2e emissions. Different route and customer configurations are modeled analytically. Utilizing real-word data, tradeoffs and comparative advantages of UAVs are discussed. Breakeven points for operational emissions are obtained and the results clearly indicate that UAVs are more CO2e efficient, for small payloads, than conventional diesel vans in a per-distance basis. Drastically different results are obtained when customers can be grouped in a delivery route. UAV deliveries are not more CO2e efficient than tricycle or electric van delivery services if a few customers can be grouped in a route. Vehicle phase CO2e emissions for UAVs are significant and must be taken into account. Ground vehicles are more efficient when comparing vehicles production and disposal emissions per delivery.


© 2017. This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license

NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Transportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Transportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment, 57, (December 2017).



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