Cokyasar, Taner; Dong, Wenquan; Jin, Mingzhou; Verbas, I.
Drones are projected to alter last-mile delivery, but their short travel range is a concern. This study proposes a drone delivery network design using automated battery swapping machines (ABSMs) to extend ranges. The design minimizes the long-term delivery costs, including ABSM investment, drone ownership, and cost of the delivery time, and locates ABSMs to serve a set of customers. We build a mixed-integer nonlinear program that captures the nonlinear waiting time of drones at ABSMs. To solve the problem, we create an exact solution algorithm that finds the globally optimal solution using a derivative-supported cutting-plane method. To validate the applicability of our program, we conduct a case study on the Chicago Metropolitan area using cost data from leading ABSM manufacturer and geographical data from the planning and operations language for agent-based regional integrated simulation (more commonly known as POLARIS). A sensitivity analysis identifies that ABSM service times and costs are the key parameters impacting the long-term adoption of drone delivery.