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  • Baher B.

Coming years: 6 key areas in drone research

Updated: Apr 2, 2021

Although it is impossible to project with certainty what uses of drones will arrive in the future, or the performance characteristics and costs of future successful drones, we have identified six key areas where we believe advances in drone research may occur in the coming years in the operations research/network optimization literature.


Later City News: A paper published in 'Special Issue on Celebrating 50 Years of Networks: Part 1' highlighted future directions in drone routing research. The published article explains that optimization of routing problems using drones (unmanned aerial vehicles or UAVs) has become an important area of academic research.

The purpose of this article is to look to the future and help stimulate drone routing research in directions we hope will prove interesting and fruitful. This article discusses opportunities for better modeling of (1) drone capabilities for both existing drones and those likely to be used in the future, (2) constraints on drone performance and operations, (3) different objectives for various drone services, and (4) alternative delivery modes, as well as some areas for methodological advances and some possible new applications. While much of the research to date has leveraged existing TSP (traveling salesman problem), VRP (vehicle routing problem), and arc routing models, Stefan Poikonen and James F. Campbell authors the paper look forward to new contributions from drone research that use better models of more realistic drone types and new drone applications.


The paper concluded that there exists great promise in the development and expansion of drone routing applications, and with this great promise comes great uncertainty. Although it is impossible to project with certainty what uses of drones will arrive in the future, or the performance characteristics and costs of future successful drones, we have identified six key areas where we believe advances in drone research may occur in the coming years in the operations research/network optimization literature. In addition, we ask many questions that we believe may be fruitful for the research community to answer in the coming years. Despite the separation of ideas into six areas for the sake of exposition, these areas are certainly not disjoint and are in fact highly interdependent.