Dynamic UAV-based traffic monitoring under uncertainty as a stochastic arc-inventory routing policy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Given the rapid advances in unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, and increasing need to monitor at a city level, one of the current research gaps is how to systematically deploy drones over multiple periods. We propose a real-time data-driven approach: we formulate the first deterministic arc-inventory routing problem and derive its stochastic dynamic policy. The policy is expected to be of greatest value in scenarios where uncertainty is highest and costliest, such as city monitoring during major events. The Bellman equation for an approximation of the proposed inventory routing policy is formulated as a selective vehicle routing problem. We propose an approximate dynamic programming algorithm based on Least Squares Monte Carlo simulation to find that policy. The algorithm has been modified so that the least squares dependent variable is defined to be the “expected stock out cost upon the next replenishment”. The new algorithm is tested on 30 simulated instances of real time trajectories over 5 time periods of the selective vehicle routing problem to evaluate the proposed policy and algorithm. Computational results on the selected instances show that the algorithm on average outperforms the myopic policy by 23–28%, depending on the parametric design. Further tests are conducted on classic benchmark arc routing problem instances. The 11-link instance gdb19 (Golden et al., 1983) is expanded into a sequential 15-period stochastic dynamic example and used to demonstrate why a naïve static multi-period deployment plan would not be effective in real networks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)167-185
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Transportation Science and Technology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Oct 2016


  • Approximate dynamic programming
  • Capacitated arc routing problem
  • Inventory routing problem
  • Traffic monitoring
  • Unmanned aerial vehicle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Automotive Engineering
  • Transportation
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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