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A Princeton University spinoff that says its artificial intelligence (AI) platform can help logistics providers operate their companies better has raised $4 million in venture funding and hired an alumnus of Uber Freight and FourKites to promote it.

Princeton, New Jersey-based Optimal Dynamics said today that its “CORE.ai” product uses technology it calls “high-dimensional artificial intelligence” to enable freight transportation companies plan for uncertain futures.

The “seed round” was led by Fusion Fund, with participation from The Westly Group, TenOneTen Ventures, Embark Ventures, FitzGate Ventures, and Newark Venture Partners.

That new backing has already enabled the startup to hire logistics industry veteran Chris Torrence as vice president of strategic partnerships, the firm said. The company will also use the funds to increase research and development, build strategic partnerships, and launch a full marketing effort.

The fundraising round adds the firm to a growing list of AI providers focused on the logistics sector, ranging from supply chain software vendor Blue Yonder—which was known as JDA Software Group Inc. until it took the name of an AI firm it had acquired—to enterprise software providers SAP AG and Oracle Corp., container shipping specialist ClearMetal Inc., supply chain analytics provider FusionOps, and warehouse robotics enabler Covariant. Additional supply chain AI providers include Aera TechnologyNoodle.ai, and India’s Locus.

Despite the crowded field, Optimal Dynamics says its product could help the logistics industry change from real-time human decision making to automated decision making at every level. CORE.ai 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. The platform 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, the firm said.

Optimal Dynamics was co-founded by Warren Powell, who has held a 39-year professorship at Princeton University while managing CASTLE Labs, a provider of algorithms for optimizing transportation and logistics. Powell says 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 and Ryder and his software was behind the launch of Roadway Package Systems, which became FedEx Ground, the firm said. Powell’s son and co-founder, Daniel Powell, is CEO of the firm.

“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,” Homan Yuen, partner at Fusion Fund, said in a release. “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.”

Source: Princeton University logistics tech startup raises $4 million in venture funds | 2020-07-07 | DC Velocity