ISE professor to speak to global audience on drone delivery methods

Published: Aug 6, 2021 10:30 AM

By Carla Nelson

Alice Smith, the Joe W. Forehand/Accenture Distinguished Professor of industrial and systems engineering, has been invited to speak to an international audience as part of The University of Hong Kong’s Systems Analytics Global Leaders’ Seminars.

The Zoom webinar, which is titled “Innovative Uses of Drones for Last Mile Delivery with a Focus on Healthcare,” will focus on two novel strategies for employing a combination of drones and delivery vehicles for last mile delivery to homes and businesses. The first strategy uses a drone to resupply a truck during the day for same-day delivery. The second strategy integrates a truck with a drone. In this case, the truck or the drone can make deliveries and pick-ups and the drone is launched from and returned to the truck. Both strategies offer benefits in customer service and cost of delivery compared to traditional truck delivery.

“We have tested the drone delivery strategies in two ways,” Smith explained. “First, we have simulated them with detailed animations. Second, we have two actual drones and have flown test missions for medical delivery.” 

The physical field trial is still underway as it was delayed by the ongoing pandemic.

Smith said the topic is important to discuss because rural populations are underserved through medical care, especially in Alabama.

“We want to help reach people with their needed medicines and tests in a timely but cost-effective manner,” she said. “This is where drones come in. Using drones to augment human delivery personnel allow more people to be served without delays.” 

Smith went on to explain that in rural environments, many of the issues of flying drones are lessened because there are fewer obstructions, fewer people, and fewer buildings. Distances are also greater in rural areas, which further leverage the speed and direct pathing of drones.

The “Innovative Uses of Drones for Last Mile Delivery with a Focus on Healthcare” seminar will take place on Aug. 11 at 8 a.m. Join by Zoom here. Zoom meeting ID: 939 6553 3071

Media Contact: Carla Nelson,, 334.844.1401

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