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The potential for automation to transform urban deliveries: Drivers, barriers and policy priorities

Paddeu, Daniela; Parkhurst, Graham



Milakis Dimitris

Nikolas Thomopoulos

Bert van Wee


Urban freight transport is crucial to ensuring the economic vitality of a city. However, significant negative ‘externalities’ arise from freight flows in urban areas. Current solutions to reduce the impact of freight transport in urban areas aim at reducing the number of vehicles (e.g. introducing traffic regulations and restrictions, or providing for transhipment to lower-environmental impact vehicles at an Urban Consolidation Centre), or to reduce the polluting emissions of the delivery fleet (e.g. use of electric vans, electric scooters, cargo-bikes). However, the future might offer very different additional options. Hence, the chapter explores developments in automation (i.e. autonomous surface and aerial delivery vehicles), such as might achieve sustainability benefits through replacing or integrating with current delivery systems, including providing the ‘last mile’, in urban areas. Specifically, the chapter presents a review of current and future developments in automated urban freight transport systems and the results of a series of stakeholder engagement workshops on future solutions for urban freight. The chapter demonstrates that, despite the potential importance of automation for improving the efficiency and competitiveness of the urban freight sector, research evidence gaps exist related to the identification of competitive advantages for these new technologies, micro and macro-economic benefits, and the costs of those developments. It is also considered that, whilst there may be potential for automation in the urban delivery sector to enhance welfare, particularly in terms of quality-of-life-factors, significant practical and policy barriers remain.

Publication Date Aug 1, 2020
Publisher Elsevier
Book Title Policy Implications of Autonomous Vehicles
ISBN 9780128201916
APA6 Citation Paddeu, D., & Parkhurst, G. (2020). The potential for automation to transform urban deliveries: Drivers, barriers and policy priorities. In B. van Wee, N. Thomopoulos, & M. Dimitris (Eds.), Policy Implications of Autonomous Vehicles. Elsevier
Keywords Urban deliveries; automation; freight; Connected Autonomous Vehicles; Unmanned Aerial Vehicles; drones; Delivery Bots; Last-Mile Deliveries.
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