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  • Adrian Lepiten

UPS ORION: Improve Transportation Efficiency


The relationship between transportation and the environment has changed substantially as forms of transportation progressed, from horses and bicycles to automobiles, vehicles, ships, and planes, all of which contribute significantly to greenhouse gas emissions.

In 2020, transportation accounts for 27% of greenhouse gas emissions generating the largest share of emissions compared to electricity which accounts for 25%, and Industry with 24%. Greenhouse gas emissions from transportation are mostly caused by the combustion of fossil fuels. More than 90% of transportation fuel is petroleum-based, primarily gasoline and diesel.

Transportation is a fundamental role that allows people to access services and activities such as deliveries and social events, and its quality has an impact on both people and the environment. For example, a driver or delivery package may make several stops on a usual route; consider how much gasoline it costs each day and the number of gasses emitted. It’s huge.

To help address that concern, UPS has invested heavily in a recently unveiled new project called ORION, which calculates an optimized delivery order targeted at lowering miles traveled, transit time, and fuel consumption.

An optimized route map using ORION. (Credit: UPS)

According to Levis, ORION (On-Road Integrated Optimization and Navigation) improves efficiencies by finding small ways to save a minute or a fraction of a mile here and there.

Levis also said that automating the delivery route reduces driver stress. “Let them focus on safety and customer service, and let ORION make the little decisions for them.”

ORION is not without flaws. Its program employs the same algorithm for all of its routes, which cover a wide range of geographies. However, UPS still encourages drivers to apply their own discretion if they find a chance to improve on the pre-calculated order.

“Technology by itself and humans by themselves are not as good as technology and a human together,” Levis said. “The drivers can do some things that ORION can’t do.”