ISyE Seminar: “Innovative Uses of Drones for Last-Mile Delivery with a Focus on Healthcare”

Graduate Seminar

Please join us for our first seminar of spring semester in person! This seminar will feature Alice E. Smith from Auburn University who will discuss innovative uses of drones for last-mile delivery with a focus on healthcare.

Note: All seminars this semester will be research-focused. 

3 p.m. - Reception
3:30 p.m. - Graduate seminar

About the seminar

This seminar discusses two novel strategies for employing a combination of drones and delivery vehicles, such as trucks, for last-mile delivery to homes and businesses. The work is general, but Professor Smith and her colleagues aim for a healthcare application. One strategy uses drones to resupply trucks during the day for same-day delivery, as orders are made available at a central depot. The trucks deliver the orders to the customers but do not have to return to the depot during the day since they are being supplied by the drones for new orders. The other strategy integrates a truck with a multi-capacity drone. In this case, either the truck or the drone can make both deliveries and pick-ups, and the drone is launched from and returned to the truck. A mathematical model is formulated and solved for each strategy. Smith and her team show that both strategies offer benefits in customer service and cost of delivery compared to traditional truck delivery only. The researchers focus their work on healthcare and specifically the delivery and pick up of medical supplies and tests (such as COVID-19 tests) in challenged, rural environments. They are complementing their algorithmic and computational work with animations and a limited physical field trial. For context, read the paper, “The traveling salesman problem with release dates and drone resupply” (PDF).

About the speaker

Alice E. Smith is the Joe W. Forehand/Accenture Distinguished Professor of the Industrial and Systems Engineering Department at Auburn University, where she served as department chair from 1999-2011. She also has a joint appointment with the Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering. Previously, she was on the faculty of the Department of Industrial Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh from 1991-99, which she joined after industrial experience with Southwestern Bell Corporation. Smith has degrees from Rice University, Saint Louis University, and the Missouri University of Science and Technology.

Start date
Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2022, 3:30 p.m.

Ford Hall, Room 110