Utilizing a Multi-Criteria Evaluation and Least Cost Pathway Analysis to Determine a Suitable Location for a UAV Port in Northern Ontario to Serve Remote Communities
Remote communities in North-Western Ontario suffer from the inability to obtain adequate diets due to inflated food costs. These costs are a result of few transport mechanisms able to deliver food resources to these remote communities. With current technology development and research on unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), the possibility of using blimp-sized UAVs to deliver large quantities of goods is in reach. The purpose of this research is to provide remote communities in North-Western Ontario better access to transported goods through the use of UAVs. This will be achieved by utilizing a multi-criteria evaluation (MCE) as well as a least cost pathway analysis (LCP). The model created determined the most suitable location for a UAV launch port and access route near Thunder Bay, Ontario to service these remote communities. The model incorporates the required size of the UAV launch station, protected areas, wetlands, forested areas, lakes and rivers, urban areas and slope; each having unique constraints and factoring scales. Once the constraints and factors were accounted for, the MCE revealed best suitable location for the UAV launch station. From here the LCP inputed cost paths that determined the best route to connect the launch station from the closest, largest import city of Thunder Bay. This research provides an efficient alternative method to the transportation of goods for remote communities, and illustrates a scenario where blimp-sized UAV delivery could be utilized.