Automation, Electrification, and Shared Mobility in Freight

The growing interest in automation, shared mobility, and electrification (3 Revolutions or 3Rs) has mostly focused on light duty vehicles, and passenger transportation. On the contrary, the urban freight system (UFS) has been mostly overlooked, and it constitutes the next frontier for the penetration and development of such technologies. The UFS is constantly changing and adapting and bringing with it new challenges for the sustainability of urban environments. One key challenge is that the system is highly diverse and while supply chain and logistics systems have become very sophisticated, the final transfer of the goods or services is simple in nature, though there are many factors (e.g., parking availability, access to the curb, readiness of the recipient) that make it a very complex and inefficient process. Some of these factors are unique to the UFS and could be industry specific. Understanding these factors and how they relate to the advent of the 3Rs is an important research topic. Consequently, this project explores the way urban freight activities are performed and conducts a descriptive and comparative assessment of the system’s characteristics, its key needs, and how they relate to automation, sharing, and electrification. Considering previous research findings about the differences among industry segments, this work will focus on the food and retail industries which comprise a significant share of the urban freight demand and traffic (both commercial and residential). Specifically, the white paper will discuss the challenges and opportunities for the introduction of automation in last mile/last feet delivery operations. Whilst automation is already part of the freight system, from robots and automated processes inside manufacturing and distribution center facilities to automated port terminals, this is not the case for the final distribution process.


    • English


    • Status: Completed
    • Funding: $30,392
    • Sponsor Organizations:

      California Department of Transportation

      1227 O Street
      Sacramento, CA  United States  95843
    • Managing Organizations:

      METRANS Transportation Center

      University of Southern California
      Los Angeles, CA  United States  90089-0626
    • Project Managers:

      Brinkerhoff, Cort

      Soriano, Katrina

    • Performing Organizations:

      University of California, Davis

      Davis,   United States 
    • Principal Investigators:

      Jaller, Miguel

    • Start Date: 20190201
    • Expected Completion Date: 20200131
    • Actual Completion Date: 0
    • USDOT Program: University Transportation Centers
    • Source Data:

    Subject/Index Terms

    Filing Info

    • Accession Number: 01701779
    • Record Type: Research project
    • Source Agency: METRANS Transportation Center
    • Files: RiP
    • Created Date: Apr 12 2019 7:23PM