Optimal Dynamics, a startup aiming to automate and optimize the logistics and supply chain industry through a new proprietary technology called High Dimensional Artificial Intelligence, announced today that it has raised a $4 million seed round, led by Fusion Fund, with participation from The Westly Group, TenOneTen Ventures, Embark Ventures, FitzGate Ventures, and Newark Venture Partners.
“Optimal Dynamics’ main product, CORE.ai, leverages High Dimensional Artificial Intelligence, which is the result of decades of research and development at Princeton University. CORE.ai allows companies to capture significantly more detail, plan into the future, and most importantly, plan for uncertainty,” said Daniel Powell, Co-Founder and CEO of Optimal Dynamics. “Together, with our technology and our team of industry and technical experts, we are positioned to fundamentally shift how transportation and logistics companies plan and make decisions.”
CORE.ai’s High-Dimensional Artificial Intelligence is made possible by a novel use of approximate dynamic programming developed specifically for freight transportation, transitioning the logistics industry from real-time human decision making to advance automated decision making at every level. It enables logistics companies to automate everything from high-level strategic questions around how many drivers they need or what equipment they should buy, to daily dispatching and load acceptance issues. It also allows companies to plan significantly further into the future from its ability to learn and plan for uncertainty, unlike previous systems that have to assume a perfect future. This technology makes it possible to perform strategic, tactical and real-time planning, all with the same technology, creating a seamless interface throughout the planning process.
Homan Yuen, Partner of Fusion Fund, “This is a watershed moment for the trucking and logistics industries to be able to deploy Optimal Dynamics’ CORE.ai product and drive planning visibility and increased efficiencies. CORE.ai is the first product to handle the high-dimensional problems that arise in transportation and logistics, while still managing the different forms of uncertainty that are endemic to this industry.”
Warren Powell, who co-founded the company alongside his son and the company’s CEO, Daniel Powell, has held a 39-year professorship at Princeton University while managing CASTLE Labs, focused on models and algorithms for stochastic optimization applied to transportation and logistics. His work changed the industry’s “less-than-truckload” segment (consisting of parcels and smaller freight) by mapping more efficient ways to plan routes and using terminals that break down shipments. His models have been used by Yellow, Ryder and his software was behind the launch of Roadway Package Systems, which became FedEx Ground.1
Professor Powell noted: “CASTLE Labs gave me a unique setting for working directly with industry, allowing me to see first-hand what the problems were, what worked and what didn’t. I often learned by watching people solve problems and then turned this into mathematics. Of course, computers ‘think’ differently from humans, and it was necessary to exploit the power of modern optimization algorithms, but these were only well suited to solving deterministic problems. I had to combine optimization tools with machine learning and simulation.”
The investment will allow Optimal Dynamics to increase R&D, build strategic partnerships, and launch a full marketing effort. At the keystone of this effort is new hire Chris Torrence, who joined Optimal Dynamics as the VP of Strategic Partnerships in May. Chris is an industry veteran who’s held prior leadership roles at Uber Freight and FourKites.