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Delivering items with drones instead of trucks is likely to reduce carbon dioxide emissions for short-range trips, or on routes with few customers, according to a study conducted by transportation engineers at the University of Washington. The study, set for publication in Transportation Research Part D, suggests that trucks have the environmental advantage for longer-range trips and routes with lots of stops. Also, size matters. “Trucks compete better on heavier loads, but for really light packages, drones are awesome,” senior author Anne Goodchild said in a news release. That’s good news for Amazon, which is working on a drone delivery system for packages weighing up to 5 pounds. The UW study used real-world data from Los Angeles and a lot of computer modeling to assess 10 different environmental scenarios for drones vs. trucks. So what’s the bottom line for delivery drones? “You’re probably not going to see these in downtown Seattle anytime soon,” Goodchild said, “but maybe in a rural community with roads that are slow and hard for trucks to navigate and no airspace or noise concerns.”


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