Fully-funded PhD studentship to work in the project entitled “Investigation into Energy-Efficient Last-Mile Delivery Operations with Autonomous Electric Vehicles”.

University of Sheffield

Supervisory Team:   

Dr Merve Keskin and Dr Erica Ballantyne, Sheffield University Management School; Prof. David Stone, Department of Electronic & Electrical Engineering.

Project Description:

Applications are invited for a fully-funded ‘home’ PhD studentship to work on the project entitled “Investigation into Energy-Efficient Last-Mile Delivery Operations with Autonomous Electric Vehicles”.

The aim of the project is to examine the efficient usage of autonomous electric delivery vehicles, for example robot delivery vehicles, and the design of their support network infrastructure and routing, to allow them to operate as seamlessly and energy efficiently as possible.

With the increase in global greenhouse gas emissions and their subsequent effect on the climate, there is an urgent need to decarbonise. It is now seen as advantageous to rapidly electrify the transport sector; this being driven by recognition that this sector is now the largest single source of carbon emissions in the UK. Additionally, commercial vehicle operations make up a significant proportion of the overall sector emissions and with the city centres becoming increasingly crowded, autonomous zero-emission vehicles can provide a safe delivery alternative to traditional delivery vans, thus helping to reduce urban congestion, and aid decarbonisation of transport systems.

Including two areas of expertise, last-mile logistics and freight transport operations and their optimisation, together with electric vehicle / battery technology and energy modelling, this interdisciplinary project aims at exploring different aspects of efficient utilisation of multiple small electric delivery vehicles as an alternative to large diesel-powered vehicles. The project will include addressing the following problems:

  • Routing the delivery vehicles such that all customers are visited and their requirements are met.
  • Determining the locations where the last-mile delivery vehicles can be based and where the recharging facilities are installed.
  • Determining the infrastructure of recharging facilities such as their outlet types (wired / wireless recharging) and power ratings.

This studentship therefore covers a number of aspects of energy use, charging and routing of autonomous delivery vehicles to holistically optimise delivery operations.

The successful PhD candidate will be required to undertake a detailed literature review of existing models, with a view to understanding and further developing novel models which may be experimentally verified as required using a dataset which will be constructed by the candidate.

The chosen candidate is also expected to prepare and present conference papers, followed by at least one journal article to disseminate the research.

Entry Requirements:

A very good undergraduate degree with a UK 1st Class honours degree (minimum 2:1), or its international equivalent.

Optimisation and/or mathematical or general engineering background (desirable)

Closing Date: 31 July 2023

PhD Start date: October 2023


Online at: https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/postgraduate/phd/apply/applying

Please apply for the Sheffield University Management School, enter Dr Merve Keskin under the Primary Supervisor to ensure the application is processed correctly.

Applications should include:

Cover Letter to demonstrate the motivation to undertake research on this project

Curriculum Vitae

Two reference letters / names

Degree Transcripts to date

For further information or informal enquiries please contact:

Dr Merve Keskin [email protected] or

Dr Erica Ballantyne [email protected]

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