A range-restricted recharging station coverage model for drone delivery service planning

Insu Hong, Michael Kuby, Alan T. Murray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

129 Scopus citations


Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are attracting significant interest for delivery service of small packages in urban areas. The limited flight range of electric drones powered by batteries or fuel cells requires refueling or recharging stations for extending coverage to a wider area. To develop such service, optimization methods are needed for designing a network of station locations and delivery routes. Unlike ground-transportation modes, however, UAVs do not follow a fixed network but rather can fly directly through continuous space. But, paths must avoid barriers and other obstacles. In this paper, we propose a new location model to support spatially configuring a system of recharging stations for commercial drone delivery service, drawing on literature from planar-space routing, range-restricted flow-refueling location, and maximal coverage location. We present a mixed-integer programming formulation and an efficient heuristic algorithm, along with results for a large case study of Phoenix, AZ to demonstrate the effectiveness and efficiency of the model.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)198-212
Number of pages15
JournalTransportation Research Part C: Emerging Technologies
StatePublished - May 2018


  • Euclidean Shortest Path
  • GIS
  • Location modeling
  • Spatial optimization
  • Unmanned aerial vehicles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Transportation
  • Automotive Engineering
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Management Science and Operations Research


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