Potential applications of unmanned ground and aerial vehicles to mitigate challenges of transport and logistics-related critical success factors in the humanitarian supply chain

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The present decade has seen an upsurge in the research on the applications of autonomous vehicles and drones to present innovative and sustainable solutions for traditional transportation and logistical challenges. Similarly, in this study, we propose using autonomous cars and drones to resolve conventional logistics and transport challenges faced by international humanitarian organizations (IHOs) during a relief operation. We do so by identifying, shortlisting, and elaborating critical success factors or key transport and logistics challenges from the existing humanitarian literature and present a conceptual model to mitigate these challenges by integrating unmanned ground (UGVs) and aerial vehicles (UAVs) in the humanitarian supply chain. To understand how this novel idea of using UGVs and UAVs could help IHOs, we drafted three research questions, first focusing on the identification of existing challenges, second concentrating on remediation of these challenges, and the third to understand realization timeline for UGVs and UAVs. This lead to the development of a semi-structured, open-ended questionnaire to record the respondents’ perspectives on the existing challenges and their potential solutions. We gathered data form, ten interviewees, with substantial experience in the humanitarian sector from six IHOs stationed in Pakistan and Austria. In light of the feedback for the second research question, we present a conceptual model of integrating UAVs and UGVs in the relief chain. The results of the study indicate that technological advancement in mobility withholds the potential to mitigate the existing challenges faced by IHOs. However, IHOs tend to be reluctant in adapting UGVs compared to UAVs. The results also indicate that the adaptation of these technologies is subject to their technical maturity, and there are no significant differences in opinions found between the IHOs from Pakistan and Austria.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAsian Journal of Sustainability and Social Responsibility
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Austrian Classification of Fields of Science and Technology (ÖFOS)

  • 502017 Logistics
  • 502014 Innovation research
  • 509


  • Autonomous vehicles
  • CSF
  • Critical success factors
  • Disaster relief
  • Disaster response
  • Humanitarian logistics
  • Logistics
  • Transportation
  • UAVs
  • UGVs

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