Yijie on her research
Imagine a future where you can receive any item you order online within 2 hours, all while reducing the environmental impact and minimising traffic congestion in your city. It’s an exciting prospect that Yijie is working to make a reality through last-mile delivery solutions.
As more people move into urban areas and online shopping continues to surge, the demand for goods delivery has increased dramatically, leading to more delivery vehicles on the road and more congestion. Solutions proposed to address these challenges include such innovative ideas as drones, electric vehicles, and bike delivery have been proposed. Through Yijie’s research, she aims to evaluate these emerging solutions and their impact on traffic congestion, delays, and emissions, while improving the speed and efficiency of urban goods delivery.
The outcome of her research will benefit 12.3 million shoppers worldwide, as well as couriers, truck drivers, retailers, logistics companies, and the community as a whole. By reducing traffic congestion and emissions, we can create a more sustainable and liveable urban environment for everyone.
In her research Yijie is actively engaging with Australia Post to collect available freight demand data.
What questions will this research answer?
At the heart of Yijie’s research are two critical questions: What are the feasible and innovative urban delivery solutions that can improve environmental sustainability in Australian cities, and what impact will they have?
As we grapple with the challenges of rising demand for urban goods delivery, we recognise the urgent need for innovative solutions that can meet this demand without sacrificing sustainability. We’re exploring a range of cutting-edge technologies and delivery models, from drones and electric vehicles to new urban delivery schemes such as delivery to micro-consolidation centres.
Development of traffic simulation models for freight modelling
The video below presents preliminary simulation results from Yijie’s project, Transformative commercial urban delivery solutions.
An infographic for Yijie’s PhD project – click here to download a PDF version of Innovative and sustainable urban delivery – Research infographic
Why drew Yijie to this topic??
Yijie’s passion for transportation began at a young age, fuelled by a desire to find ways to ease the frustrating traffic jams that she encountered on a daily basis. As she advanced through her bachelor’s and master’s studies, she gained an in-depth understanding of the ever-growing demand for urban goods delivery.
The rise of urbanisation, surging online shopping, and increasing home deliveries have all contributed to an increase in the number of delivery vehicles on the road, leading to more congestion and emissions. Yijie realised that improving urban goods delivery was crucial in reducing traffic congestion and its negative impact on the environment. This realisation led her to pursue her current doctoral research, where she is working to develop new and sustainable solutions for urban delivery.
Notably, her research is particularly relevant to the Australian context, where policy makers and the public are keenly interested in improving freight transport practices. By exploring and analysing innovative delivery models and emerging technologies, she hopes to create more sustainable and effective solutions for urban delivery in Australia and beyond.
How far along has the work progressed?
Through this research, Yijie has analysed the demands of urban delivery and identified both existing and emerging delivery interventions that have the potential to improve efficiency and sustainability.
Through the study, she has not only identified the challenges and opportunities associated with existing delivery interventions but also developed a roadmap for evaluating these interventions using advanced traffic simulation approaches. This approach can provide a comprehensive evaluation of these interventions and their potential impact on traffic congestion and the environment.
Over the past year, Yijie and her research team have dedicated efforts into simulating selected interventions using traffic simulation approach. Significant progress has been made in creating diverse simulation scenarios and analysing the impact of the interventions.
In addition to this, the research team has recently prepared and submitted a journal paper (currently under journal review) that presents their findings. Simultaneously, Yijie is working on a new scientific paper that examines the impact of micro hub intervention from a traffic simulation perspective. In this paper simulation results will be presented and discussed.
Why is this work important?
This research has substantial commercial implications. The successful completion of this research will result in a number of practical deliverables which can be of direct benefit to urban freight delivery providers, government agencies and the community at large. Importantly, it will establish base demand data for urban deliveries for Melbourne and provide a modelling framework and tools for establishing the impacts of novel urban delivery interventions.
The outcomes will also help in developing new opportunities for public private partnerships to deliver new urban delivery systems based on these disruptive forces which will provide consumers with more options.
What obstacles are you proud to have overcome? How did you do it?
Yijie feels that undertaking a PhD requires not only technical expertise, but also the ability to navigate and refine the direction of research. Throughout her journey she have been fortunate to receive excellent guidance and support from her supervisors, Professor Hussein Dia and Associate Prof. Hadi Ghaderi. They have provided invaluable support, helping her achieve significant research outcomes. With their expert knowledge and guidance, she has been able to refine her research questions, identify emerging opportunities, and develop innovative solutions.
In addition to technical skills,she has also gained valuable experience in presenting her research to diverse audiences and communicating effectively through scientific papers. This has helped her to distil complex research findings into clear, concise messages that can be understood by both expert and non-expert stakeholders alike.
Overall, Yijie’s PhD journey has been a rich and rewarding experience, providing her with the skills and expertise necessary to excel as a researcher and make meaningful contributions to the field of sustainable urban freight.
What surprised you? What have you found most stimulating and exciting?
It was surprising to discover that despite the abundance of existing research on urban delivery interventions, the evidence base remains fragmented and lacking in cohesion. This represents a significant opportunity for my research team to conduct a comprehensive and constructive analysis of the field, and to develop practical strategies and interventions for future applications.
What does Yijie see as her next move upon completing her PhD?
Yijie is passionate about using her research to create real-world impact and drive positive change, and she believes that staying connected to industry and research communities is a crucial part of achieving this goal. By remaining engaged with these communities, she can ensure that her research remains relevant and valuable, and that it continues to address the key challenges and opportunities facing our society today.
Whether through ongoing collaborations, speaking engagements, or other forms of outreach, Yijie is committed to sharing the results of her research with others and promoting its potential to drive meaningful change in the world.
A word from PhD supervisor, Professor Hussein Dia
Why is this PhD important to investigate?
This research is important because it tackles an increasingly complex topic related to commercial urban deliveries which have increased substantially in recent years due to the surge in online shopping activities and food deliveries. Despite this, there have been limited research into identifying and evaluating innovative methods and solutions for urban deliveries that can be aligned with community objectives to reduce congestion and emissions.
With more people working from home and relying more on online shopping activities, freight volumes in urban areas are projected to grow over the next decade. This will result in more commercial vehicles on the road further exasperating congestion and worsening air quality. Finding new solutions to accommodate the growth of urban freight delivery will be essential to ensuring the quality of urban life in our growing cities. New solutions can also help operators improve delivery times and manage costs.
This research aims to address this problem by identifying, modelling and evaluating a number of solutions that can provide effective, efficient and affordable delivery options that can promote sustainable transport principles, reduce congestion and emissions and help operators to improve their operations and meet consumer expectations for higher levels of services.
What are the major challenges to overcome in the field?
The key challenge in this field is that commercial urban deliveries have continued to rely on conventional methods and modes of transport such as using large and heavy polluting trucks and vans in urban areas, and have not implemented at large scale current and emerging trends in urban freight deliveries such as cargo bikes, parcel lockers, consolidation centres, electric vehicle deliveries, night deliveries, drones and autonomous ground vehicles and other emerging tech-based innovations.
While some of these solutions are gradually finding their ways into our cities, it is still unknown what impact they have in improving customer satisfaction, reducing congestion and emissions, and reducing costs and delivery times to operators. To address this and demonstrate the feasibility of these new urban delivery solutions, this research will develop a traffic simulation model for Melbourne that can be used to showcase how these solutions would work and what their impacts will be.
Various scenarios will be applied representing different city growth and freight demand patterns, a range of population growth scenarios, fleet compositions, and a number of forecast horizons (e.g. short-term to 2025 and long-term up to 2050). Once calibrated and validated, the model will be used to test the effectiveness and impacts of the proposed solutions in terms of reducing congestion, emissions, delivery times, and costs. Combinations of solutions will also be tested and evaluated as it is expected that converging these solutions would amplify the benefits.
Where might this work lead in the (near and far) future?
This research has genuine commercial implications. The successful completion of this research will result in a number of practical deliverables which can be of direct benefit to urban freight delivery providers, government agencies and the community at large.
Importantly, it will establish base demand data for urban deliveries for Melbourne and provide a modelling framework and tools for establishing the impacts of novel urban delivery interventions. The outcomes will also help in developing new opportunities for public private partnerships to deliver new urban delivery systems based on these disruptive forces which will provide consumers with more options.
If you’d like to contact Yijie about her research, please click the button below.