Carnegie Mellon University
January 06, 2020

Samaras’ drone-delivery environmental impact research featured in LA Times

EPP's Costa Samaras' research was featured in an LA Times article about the environmental impacts of drone-delivery.

In the era of e-commerce, items you buy online are shipped from factories, shuttled between warehouses and finally trucked to your home. This convenience comes at an environmental cost — transportation accounts for 29% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, with medium- and heavy-duty trucks accounting for nearly a quarter of that. “It’s much greener to have a drone flying through the air to deliver you a set of headphones than for you to get in your gasoline-powered car or even your electric car and drive to the store and get it,” said Costa Samaras in the Los Angeles Times. He was quoted about his research by the news outlet who explored the environmental impact of drone-delivery in a recent piece.

Drone-delivery has already begun in a few pilot(less) programs in the U.S. Samaras’ research shows that drones use less energy per package-km compared to the status quo of ground-based delivery. The method can be electrified with clean power sources to further reduce carbon emissions. Realizing these potential environmental benefits, however, requires careful planning and minimizing the size of drones used for delivery.