Constrained Urban Airspace Design for Large-Scale Drone-Based Delivery Traffic

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9 Citations (Scopus)
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Large-scale adoption of drone-based delivery in urban areas promise societal benefits with respect to emissions and on-ground traffic congestion, as well as potential cost savings for drone-based logistic companies. However, for this to materialise, the ability of accommodating high volumes of drone traffic in an urban airspace is one of the biggest challenges. For unconstrained airspace, it has been shown that traffic alignment and segmentation can be used to mitigate conflict probability. The current study investigates the application of these principles to a highly constrained airspace. We propose two urban airspace concepts, applying road-based analogies of two-way and one-way streets by imposing horizontal structure. Both of the airspace concepts employ heading-altitude rules to vertically segment cruising traffic according to their travel direction. These airspace configurations also feature transition altitudes to accommodate turning flights that need to decrease the flight speed in order to make safe turns at intersections. While using fast-time simulation experiments, the performance of these airspace concepts is compared and evaluated for multiple traffic demand densities in terms of safety, stability, and efficiency. The results reveal that an effective way to structure drone traffic in a constrained urban area is to have vertically segmented altitude layers with respect to travel direction as well as horizontal constraints imposed to the flow of traffic. The study also makes recommendations for areas of future research, which are aimed at supporting dynamic traffic demand patterns.
Original languageEnglish
Article number38
Pages (from-to)1-22
Number of pages22
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • urban airspace design
  • constrained airspace
  • UTM
  • U-Space
  • drone delivery
  • urban air mobility
  • smart cities
  • Urban airspace design
  • Smart cities
  • Drone delivery
  • Constrained airspace
  • Urban air mobility


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