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Artificial Intelligence Solutions for Green Freight Transportation and Vehicle Routing (SF19/MOS/QU1)

Faculty of Business and Law

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Dr Y Qu Applications accepted all year round Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Artificial intelligence and optimisation are integral tools for the successful planning of vehicle fleet routing and road freight transportation. Traditionally the goal is to minimise distances travelled and vehicle fleet sizes. An emerging research direction however also considers environmental impact and greener solutions. The transportation industry is a significant contributor to greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and other harmful emissions such as nitrogen oxides. The rate of production of these gases is not only linked to the total distances travelled by vehicles but to many other factors also such as vehicle speeds, road gradients, congestion, acceleration and deceleration, empty kilometres, fleet vehicle mixes and many more [1]. Artificial Intelligence methods which consider these factors are starting to be researched and developed but there is still much more to be done [2,3,4,5]. This PhD project is an exciting opportunity to develop solutions which will not only have a direct beneficial impact on the environment and society but also offer significant commercial advantages for transportation and logistics companies.

The PhD will focus on two emerging challenges. Firstly, congestion data and road gradients are now readily available, but it is not being fully utilised in vehicle fleet routing [6]. New optimisation models and algorithms which incorporate all details of the road networks and the types of vehicles are needed. Secondly, as fleets transform to electric and other alternatively powered vehicles new research questions have appeared. The project will research and develop solutions to 1) Identify optimal fleet mixes to fulfil an organisation’s operations whilst minimising excess capacity and costs. 2) Optimise fleet route plans and schedules for electric and next generation vehicles which have limited range, fewer re-charging locations and longer re-charging times. 3) Design more efficient networks which locate hubs, depots and re-charging points to maximise the efficacy of electric fleets.

Eligibility and How to Apply:

Please note eligibility requirement:
• Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.
• Appropriate IELTS score, if required.

For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see

Please note: Applications that do not include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words (not a copy of the advert), or that do not include the advert reference (e.g. SF19/…) will not be considered.

Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff. We welcome applications from all members of the community. The University holds an Athena SWAN Bronze award in recognition of our commitment to improving employment practices for the advancement of gender equality and is a member of the Euraxess network, which delivers information and support to professional researchers.

Funding Notes

Please note this is a self-funded project and does not include tuition fees or stipend.


Recent publications by supervisors relevant to this project:

Qu, Yi, Bektas, Tolga and Bennell, Julia (2016) Sustainability SI: multimode multicommodity network design model for intermodal freight transportation with transfer and emission costs. Networks and Spatial Economics, 16 (1). pp. 303-329. ISSN 1566-113X

Qu, Yi and Curtois, Timothy (2017) Job Insertion for the Pickup and Delivery Problem with Time Windows. Lecture Notes in Management Science, 9. pp. 26-32. ISSN 1927-0097

Curtois, Timothy, Laesanklang, Wasakorn, Landa-Silva, Dario, Mesgarpour, Mohammad and Qu, Yi(2017) Towards Collaborative Optimisation in a Shared-logistics Environment for Pickup and Delivery Operations. In: Proceedings of the 6th International Conference on Operations Research and Enterprise Systems. SCITEPRESS, pp. 477-482. ISBN 9789897582189

Curtois, Timothy, Landa-Silva, Dario, Qu, Yi and Laesanklang, Wasakorn (2018) Large neighbourhood search with adaptive guided ejection search for the pickup and delivery problem with time windows.EURO Journal on Transportation and Logistics, 7 (2). pp. 151-192. ISSN 2192-4376
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