The MIT City Science has already developed on-demand autonomous micro-mobility vehicles such as the PEV and the MIT Autonomous Bicycle. In a previous study we saw that even if autonomy can increase vehicle usage times from below 2% to above 8% there is still a large percentage of the time that vehicles are not used. For this reason, we realized there is potential to envision new uses for these vehicles during off-peak hours.
In this study we are exploring the possibility of utilizing these vehicles for food deliveries, which are traditionally done by cars in the US. Substituting traditional combustion cars for lightweight autonomous electric vehicles could potentially bring benefits in terms of CO2 emissions. To achieve our goal, we have built a multi-layer agent-based simulation model in GAMA platform. This model can be used to size each vehicle’s fleet needed to answer the food delivery demand previously generated, to analyze the average distance traveled by each system, or to assess the corresponding environmental impacts, among others. Moreover, the model allows to introduce different types of vehicles, vary autonomous driving speeds, battery lives, and recharging techniques.
The main results regarding the fleet size of the different food delivery systems needed in order to answer the same demand with the same quality standard (>95% of the trips on time), are shown in the following diagrams.