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E-commerce is now part of the consumer experience – why brave a busy mall when you could get your shopping delivered to your doorstep, and return it for free if you don’t like it? This trend has exploded: in the US, e-commerce consumer spending is projected to reach one trillion USD (1), and in China, over 40 billion packages were delivered in 2017 (2). While undeniably practical for the consumer, this presents challenges for the companies and for the environment, since consumers expect fast delivery and this can be a costly process. This results in an abundance of commercial vehicles traveling to make home deliveries: an unsustainable system both in terms of feasibility and environmental impact. These commercial vehicles add to pollution and traffic congestion. The authors explored the challenges of last-mile delivery (the last leg of the distribution process) and how emerging technologies, including AI, can play a role in reducing the pollution caused by urban freight transportation. In their latest paper published in Transportation Research Part B (3), they explore the possibility of using “freight-on-transit” delivery methods: using public transportation to transport packages in big cities.
DELLE DONNE, D., ARCHETTI, C., LJUBIC, I. et ALFANDARI, L. (2023). When public transport delivers. ESSEC Knowledge.