Corvus: Urban Air Mobility Solutions for Package Delivery; Socioeconomic and Ecological Impacts of Urban Rail Transportation

Mather, Timothy, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
McDaniel, James, EN-Mech/Aero Engr Dept, University of Virginia
Seabrook, Bryn, EN-Engineering and Society, University of Virginia

In order to address the issue of insufficient assets for the sustainable and rapid transportation of goods in urban areas, a technical design study has been performed. This effort, undertaken as a part of the NASA University Design Contest, was undertaken to design an unmanned aerial system that will deliver packages in urban environments. This future network will replace or augment existing automotive package delivery systems, cutting costs for both companies and consumers, and improving atmospheric pollution and roadway congestion by taking delivery vehicles off of the roads. This system will be successful through its implementation of next-generation technology and economic integration with existing commercial infrastructures. Specific technologies used include solid state batteries, tilt-wing drones, and modular package delivery methods. Through performing a thorough aeronautical design, successful market analysis, and cooperating with proposed drone infrastructure, the development of a well-functioning and efficient urban air package delivery system was accomplished.
When considering the costs associated with legacy methods for package delivery, many of these same issues arise when considering urban rail transportation. Operational networks are too small, timetables are inconvenient, and infrastructure is outdated and crumbling. These factors combine to cause many to take more pollutive forms of transportation, such as cars and buses, to locations where many travel. Additionally, many who more heavily rely on public transit, such as those in less advantageous socioeconomic situations, are underserved by existing infrastructure. This lack of service hampers the ability of city residents to find a job, increase their level of wealth, and improve their social mobility. Improving the accessibility to reliable transit should be a priority of city planners, however it is imperative that these networks are in fact a net benefit. Pollutive forms of transit provide a smaller advantage over automobiles, property values near train tracks can both rise and fall depending on the circumstances, and government corruption and lobbying can result in mismanagement of assets. Analyzing the successes and failures of current systems, both domestic and international, has provided valuable insight in how to best construct a well-functioning rail transit network. In order to improve the current state of urban rail transportation in the United States, a series of case studies examining the successes and failures of existing systems were undertaken, emphasizing economic, social, and political issues. As a result of this research, it was discovered that decreasing dependence on automobiles and switching to public transit directly improved the health and productivity of workers. Traveling by trains also left more disposable income available to said workers, due to lower commuting costs. Additionally, air pollution and social mobility statistics saw a significant improvement. Finally, through improvements in scheduling, existing infrastructure is able to increase passenger throughput and decrease demands of rolling stock, representing large cost savings and increases in operating budgets. Overall, rail transit serves as an economic driver in urban metropolitan areas, making the lives of all residents better.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
Public Transit, Transportation, Package Delivery, Unmanned Aerial Systems, Technological Determinism

School of Engineering and Applied Science
Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering
Technical Advisor: James McDaniel
STS Advisor: Bryn Seabrook
Technical Team Members: David Normansell, Cristhian Vasquez, Brett Brunsink, Henry Smith, Timothy Mather, Daniel Choi, Derrick Devairakkam, Gino Giansante, JD Parker, Joseff Medina, Justin Robinson, Philip Hays, Alejandro Britos

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