The last mile delivery faces a dual challenge

The last mile delivery faces a dual challenge: it must satisfy the demands of globalized trade and meet environmental requirements (Luigi Ranieri). In this context, innovation is a crucial topic to enable the transition from the current logistics systems configurations towards more sustainable ones. Last mile logistics is an important phase in the supply chain. Researchers and practitioners are both involved in jointly increasing delivery systems’ efficiency and reducing the related externalities. Technologies, transport means, model and organizational strategies proposed in the scientific literature of the last five years can address several aspects of the externalities model. The transport externalities in urban areas are of a different nature: air pollution, due to vehicles’ emissions; noise pollution, produced by the high number of vehicles in circulation and by conventional engines; accidents, mostly related to driver distraction; congestion, generated by the high number of vehicles in the city; land use, due to the spreading of vehicle; infrastructure wear and tear, generated by the frequency and weight of vehicles; energy dependency caused by traditional power technology and engine inefficiency. The innovations with a potential in reducing impacts and externalities can be classified into five main categories: new vehicles, proximity stations or points, collaborative and cooperative urban logistics and optimization of transport management and routing. Each of these has strengths and gaps that can be considered as research opportunities. Combining these innovations and using them together (e.g., using EL-Vs for delivery in a cooperative urban logistic concept integrated with ICT tools and depots distributed in the city districts), a smart logistics system would be created. With a huge challenges lie ahead for UAVs with the regulatory environment, privacy concerns, and integration into existing networks. It is likely to take considerable time and effort to overcome these challenges and, in fact, many branches of the logistics industry may never develop regular use of UAVs at all. However, this report has indicated specific applications in which UAVs are already succeeding today – applications that increase delivery speed and customer service levels, lower cost and, in some cases, save lives. From today’s perspective, the two most promising uses in the logistics industry regarding business potential are: Urgent express shipments in crowded megacities improving the delivery speed, network flexibility, and potentially even the environmental record. Rural deliveries in areas that lack adequate infrastructure enabling people in remote locations to be connected to the global trade networks This topic will continue to be of great interest over the next few years, particularly if technological developments and changes in legislation accelerate the dissemination of UAVs.

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