Exact Methods for the Traveling Salesman Problem with Drone

Efficiently handling last-mile deliveries becomes more and more important nowadays. Using drones to support classical vehicles allows improving delivery schedules as long as efficient solution methods to plan last-mile deliveries with drones are available. We study exact solution approaches for some variants of the traveling salesman problem with drone (TSP-D) in which a truck and a drone are teamed up to serve a set of customers. This combination of truck and drone can exploit the benefits of both vehicle types: the truck has a large capacity but usually low travel speed in urban areas; the drone is faster and not restricted to street networks, but its range and carrying capacity are limited. We propose a compact mixed-integer linear program (MILP) for several TSP-D variants that is based on timely synchronizing truck and drone flows; such a MILP is easy to implement but nevertheless leads to competitive results compared to the state-of-the-art MILPs. Furthermore, we introduce dynamic programming recursions to model several TSP-D variants. We show how these dynamic programming recursions can be exploited in an exact branch-and-price approach based on a set partitioning formulation and using ng-route relaxation, dual variable stabilization, and a three-level hierarchical branching. The proposed branch-and-price can solve instances with up to 39 customers to optimality outperforming the state-of-the-art by more than doubling the manageable instance size.


Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, 11/2019



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