The “sidekick” routing paradigm for VMT reduction and improved accessibility

This project will combine tools from geospatial analysis, mathematical optimization theory, and computational geometry to study a routing paradigm that we call sidekick routing. A sidekick routing scheme is a logistical framework in which a large vehicle, such as a truck or van, serves as a mobile base for a fleet of small vehicles (the “sidekicks”), such as autonomous ground vehicles (AGVs) or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Systems of this kind have significant potential to simultaneously reduce vehicle miles traveled (VMT) – because the sidekicks are not restricted to streets – and to improve accessibility to goods, because the so-called “last mile” cost of transporting those goods is reduced. The sidekick paradigm has very recently seen use in many public and private sector organizations, both in California and elsewhere. However, although the requisite physical technology is reasonably mature, the requisite management technology (i.e. systems for determining efficient routing strategies) are relatively nascent. Moreover, the extent to which such services can provide a societal benefit are not yet understood, although we believe – based on our preliminary research in this area – that the potential is very high.This project has three central goals. First, we will construct a formal mathematical description of sidekick routing problems. Second, we next design and implement algorithms to solve sidekick routing problems efficiently. Finally, and most importantly, we will use publicly available data to answer high-level questions about the desirability of sidekick systems, such as to what extent one can improve accessibility of services or reduce VMT by introducing sidekicks.


    • English


    • Status: Active
    • Funding: $99,997.00
    • Sponsor Organizations:

      Department of Transportation

      1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
      Washington, DC  United States  20590
    • Managing Organizations:

      METRANS Transportation Center

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

      Brinkerhoff, Cort

    • Performing Organizations:

      University of Southern California, Los Angeles

      University Park Campus
      Los Angeles, CA  United States  90089
    • Principal Investigators:

      Carlsson, John

    • Start Date: 20200101
    • Expected Completion Date: 20201231
    • Actual Completion Date: 0
    • USDOT Program: University Transportation Centers

    Subject/Index Terms

    Filing Info

    • Accession Number: 01732415
    • Record Type: Research project
    • Source Agency: METRANS Transportation Center
    • Files: RIP
    • Created Date: Feb 28 2020 12:47PM