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Drone aircraft -- Industrial applications, Delivery of goods -- Technological innovations


Drones are increasingly being utilized to deliver medical supplies, and the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated this trend. Drones arrive quickly by taking more direct paths and avoiding ground-based obstructions. However, drones are not completely reliable and may also experience failures and delays. For consumer products, delivery delays are an inconvenience, but for some medical supplies, delays may be fatal. This research focuses on the drone reliability of one particular type of supply and event: automatic defibrillators for out-of-hospital cardiac arrests (OHCA). A modeling framework is developed to analyze drone delivery reliability with stochastic demands and meteorological conditions. Using probability distributions based on real data from Portland, OR, this research quantifies the failure rates as a function of drone range and meteorological conditions that include temperature, precipitation, and wind. Tradeoffs among drone reliability, fleet size, population size, and meteorological conditions are analyzed.


This is the author’s version of a work. 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.


Paper accepted for presentation at the 2021 TRB Annual Meeting (January 2021, 39 Washington DC) and potential publication in Transportation Research Record.

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