Location-routing Optimisation for Urban Logistics Using Mobile Parcel Locker Based on Hybrid Q-Learning Algorithm

Link to article Link to article


Mobile parcel lockers (MPLs) have been recently proposed by logistics operators as a technology that could help reduce traffic congestion and operational costs in urban freight distribution. Given their ability to relocate throughout their area of deployment, they hold the potential to improve customer accessibility and convenience. In this study, we formulate the Mobile Parcel Locker Problem (MPLP), a special case of the Location-Routing Problem (LRP) which determines the optimal stopover location for MPLs throughout the day and plans corresponding delivery routes. A Hybrid Q-Learning-Network-based Method (HQM) is developed to resolve the computational complexity of the resulting large problem instances while escaping local optima. In addition, the HQM is integrated with global and local search mechanisms to resolve the dilemma of exploration and exploitation faced by classic reinforcement learning (RL) methods. We examine the performance of HQM under different problem sizes (up to 200 nodes) and benchmarked it against the Genetic Algorithm (GA). Our results indicate that the average reward obtained by HQM is 1.96 times greater than GA, which demonstrates that HQM has a better optimisation ability. Finally, we identify critical factors that contribute to fleet size requirements, travel distances, and service delays. Our findings outline that the efficiency of MPLs is mainly contingent on the length of time windows and the deployment of MPL stopovers.

arXiv, In review