Industrial, manufacturing, and systems engineering Assistant Professor Caroline Krejci is using a new National Science Foundation CAREER Award to design a better way for farmers to move crops and livestock to market through crowdsourced transportation programs, akin to an agricultural Uber.
Commercial crowd logistics platforms tend to be highly automated, automatically assigning users to drivers and thus preventing them from having a say in the process. In contrast, Dr. Krejci envisions a decentralized system where users can choose a person they trust for the job. This gives them more control and autonomy with less cost because they can make informed decisions and not pay additional platform fees.
“Most commercial crowd logistics platforms have a provider making a profit on top of the fees paid to drivers. Farmers don’t want to pay a 30% fee to middlemen to move their products from place to place,” Krejci says. “We’re trying to see if we can adapt the model to a smaller scale where the participants aren’t all necessarily trying to make a lot of money, but instead to provide a service to their communities.”