This article about the best artificial intelligence logistics startups is part of the “Logistics of the Future” series looking at the top logistics startups today.
We are officially living in the age of Artificial Intelligence. It’s everywhere we look, from AI-powered personal assistants to predictive analytics to making medical diagnoses, Artificial Intelligence is making incredible advances across all industries. Finance, healthcare, education, transportation — and now, in logistics and the supply chain. In fact, a recent report on the state of Artificial Intelligence for enterprises found that supply chain and operations are some of the top areas where businesses are driving revenue from AI investment.
Why is AI making such a big difference in the logistics and supply chain, particularly? The answer most likely stems from the fact that typically, the logistics industry has lagged a bit behind when it comes to implementing new technologies — in fact, one survey reported that 85% of shippers and consignees agreed that the industry is either “slow to change” or “far behind the curve.” But those that do adopt new tech such as AI, predictive analytics, blockchain solutions, RFID tagging and Internet of Things devices are ultimately able to see high ROI and improved efficiency for their businesses.
From last-mile delivery robots, to warehouse automated picking systems and predictive optimization software, Artificial Intelligence is already making a huge difference in the logistics industry in a variety of ways that benefit everyone — carriers, shippers, suppliers, consumers — even the environment is benefitting from AI solutions in the supply chain. With dozens of incredible artificial intelligence logistics startups already out there using new tech to make real change in the industry, we’ve chosen a diverse set to highlight:
- TNX Logistics
- Starship Technologies
- Nautilus Labs
- Locus Robotics
- Wise Systems
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The trucking industry is yet another huge portion of logistics which, unfortunately, has lagged behind when it comes to updating its manual processes to new tech solutions. To assist logistics providers and shippers when they’re deciding how to tender transport jobs to spot-priced carriers, TNX Logistics is using practical AI technologies. Its smart software takes a list of unallocated spot loads, bundles them and produces the best tendering strategy per each load.
TNX software, with the help of AI, is able to create a tendering strategy and constructs carrier-specific offers on its own. This means deciding when and to whom to make offers, pricing, and bundling of work — creating a catalog of tendering tactics powered by optimization and machine learning. The startup says its software has a proven 7-12% sustainable reduction in trucking costs and is used by some of the top-10 3PLs and 4PLs in Europe and New Zealand. TNX benefits 4PLs, shippers, and brokers who are looking to save money while making their lives easier with AI-powered software.
Company: TNX Logistics
Founders: Alex Hoffmann, Jonah Mclntire, Joshua Bryan
Headquarters: Berlin, Germany
Learn more about TNX Logistics:
- “Logistics Startup of the Month: TNX Logistics” – Transmetrics Blog
- “Do more with the data: How TNX Logistics sets itself apart” – FreightWaves
Founded by two ex-Google engineers, Nuro was built to harness the power of robotics and Artificial Intelligence to solve new challenges on a global scale and make an impact on our everyday lives. The first challenge they’re solving? Last-mile delivery of local goods and services. The company’s battery-powered, self-driving delivery vehicles can travel up to 40 kilometers per hour with enough space to fit several bags of groceries – but not enough room for a human driver.
The startup has already raised nearly $1 billion in funding from the Japanese tech company SoftBank, a huge feat for a startup in the crowded autonomous vehicle industry. The investment has allowed them the opportunity to partner with grocery giant Kroger first in Scottsdale, Arizona and later in Houston, Texas. Nuro currently has just six of its vehicles on the roads but plans to use its new funding to manufacture more and expand their operations in the coming years.
Founders: Dave Ferguson, Jiajun Zhu
Headquarters: Mountain View, California
Learn More About Nuro:
- “Two ex-Google engineers built an entirely different kind of self-driving car” – The Verge
- “Grocery Giant Kroger Partners With Tech Startup Nuro For Robo-Delivery Service” – Forbes
Named among the Top 5 Artificial Intelligence Logistics Startups for Supply Chain Management by Business Insider Intelligence, Transmetrics offers predictive optimization tools for the cargo transport industry. The company’s goal is to improve logistics planning by using AI, though not exactly in the sense of “Artificial Intelligence”, but rather “Augmented Intelligence”.
Transmetrics’ Augmented Intelligence approach combines inputs from human planners together with Artificial Intelligence algorithms that are doing repetitive and mundane tasks and calculations (cleaning the data, using all the available data inputs for calculations, updating models based on machine learning, providing fall-back decisions if the planner is not available, etc.). For instance, complex processes such as optimal carrier selection may take 10 minutes or longer to gather the required information, which includes sorting through numerous carriers, schedules, and routes. When that process is turned over to AI, the sorting and finding the most optimal options can be done in just seconds, leaving the human planner with a much easier final choice.
Transmetrics’ tools are applicable to a wide range of logistics companies starting from groupage businesses to container shipping lines. Using Transmetrics’ tools already helped many well-known logistics companies significantly reduce operating costs and save time from manual planning. For example, a large container shipping line NileDutch lowered the total costs for managing empty containers by a double-digit percentage. Another success story is Speedy, a member of DPDgroup, that has improved its fleet utilization, ultimately saving over 7% of the total costs, thanks to Transmetrics’ solution.
Founders: Asparuh Koev, Anna Shaposhnikova, Alexander Petkov, Rado Nikolov
Headquarters: Sofia, Bulgaria
Learn more about Transmetrics:
- “How A.I. Can Help Logistics Companies Steer Clear of Data-Quality Roadblocks” – Supply Chain Brain
- “NileDutch taps Transmetrics for empty container relocation optimization” – American Shipper
As food delivery services have exploded in popularity over the past few years, more startups have started to explore the concept of improving last-mile delivery in the food delivery industry. Starship Technologies, launched by Skype co-founders in London and now headquartered in San Francisco, represents an outstanding kind of artificial intelligence logistics startups. They have built a line of small autonomous delivery robots that can easily make their way through small urban areas to take traffic off the road and revolutionize last-mile delivery.
The startup has already partnered with popular delivery companies including Swiss Post, Domino’s and Postmates and claims to have driven over 100,000 kilometers on public sidewalks. All customers need to do is order through an app and soon, the robot has the food packed and is making its way through the streets to the delivery address. Customers can also use the app to track the six-wheeled droids in real-time with their range of two miles and the ability to deliver within 30 minutes.
Company: Starship Technologies
Founders: Ahti Heinla, Janus Friis
Headquarters: San Francisco, United States
Learn more about Starship Technologies:
- “Cities and Tech Companies Can Accomplish Great Things Together” – Entrepreneur
- “Starship Technologies launches autonomous robot delivery services for campuses” – VentureBeat
With trade routes and weather conditions that dramatically affect its logistics, maritime shipping can be quite a complex operation. That’s exactly why Nautilus Labs is leading the Artificial Intelligence logistics startups movement with its solutions to improve the efficiency of ocean commerce. The platform helps maritime shipping companies minimize fuel consumption, maximize operational efficiency, and optimize fleet performance.
Nautilus’ AI-powered software can predict a vessel’s speed and consumption by learning from an aggregated dataset that includes the historical consumption of a range of ships operating in different draft conditions, routes and weather patterns. Its AI tools have proved to be worthy of the investment: When attempting to predict how much fuel any given ship will use in a certain trip condition, the software is able to answer the question with more accuracy than humans, providing shipping companies the insights they’ve never been able to have until now.
Company: Nautilus Labs
Founders: Anthony DiMare, Brian O’Clair
Headquarters: New York City, USA
Learn more about Nautilus Labs:
- “Logistics Startup of the Month: Nautilus Labs” – Transmetrics Blog
- “Nautilus Labs: Data Analytics Platform for Unified Fleet Intelligence” – Ship-Technology
Locus Robotics was founded in an effort to make life easier for human laborers in the warehouse setting. How? Their AI multi-bot picking system triples worker efficiency simply by letting them pick faster and more accurately. Aiming to disrupt warehouse operations without actually disrupting workflows, their robotics technology is easily integrated into existing warehouse infrastructure without interrupting the way people work.
The Massachusetts startup’s main product is called the LocusBot. These robots work collaboratively and safely alongside workers to cut down their walking within the warehouse. Since LocusBots take over the movement of items, human workers no longer have to push heavy carts or carry bins, making their lives easier and in turn, making them more productive workers. Big industry names like DHL and Geodis have started using the LocusBot in their warehouse operations and are already seeing improvements: DHL was able to reduce cycle time by 50% and improve productivity by 200%, and GEODIS has seen their productivity doubled and increased order accuracy since implementing 28 LocusBots in one of their biggest warehouses.
Company: Locus Robotics
Founders: Bruce Welty
Headquarters: Wilmington, Massachusetts
Learn more about Locus Robotics:
- Locus Robotics Named Leading Warehouse Robotics Company for 3rd Consecutive Year – PR Newswire
- Locus Robotics releases Third Generation of Its Advanced Navigation System – Robotics and Automation News
Wise Systems is a Massachusetts-based AI platform that targets logistics retailers, distributors, shippers, and couriers with an AI solution that automates many supply chain processes, from scheduling and monitoring routes, adjusting shipping routes in real-time based on predictive software, and a mobile app for drivers. The company’s AI and machine learning capabilities can monitor different data to ensure that they’re improving supply chain efficiency over time.
Wise Systems has raised over $8 million USD in total, most recently raising an impressive $7 million from Google’s investment fund for early-stage AI-focused startups, called Gradient Ventures. After the funding announcement, Wise Systems CEO Chazz Sims said, “Our technology positions fleets to meet today’s and tomorrow’s needs, reshaping delivery in the $10 trillion logistics and transportation industry.”
Company: Wise Systems
Founders: Christian Floerkemeier, Christof Roduner, Samuel Mueller
Headquarters: Boston, USA
Learn more about Wise Systems:
- “Google’s Gradient Ventures leads $7 million investment in Wise Systems to automate routing for shippers” – VentureBeat
- “Wise Systems launches customer portal for delivery firms” – DCVelocity
Autonomous driving startup TuSimple launched in 2015 and has since found nearly $180 million in backing from Nvidia, ZP Capital, Sina Corp and more recently, UPS. UPS invested in the startup so TuSimple could help the shipping giant better understand the requirements for Level 4 Autonomous trucking in its network and to represent the leading example of what artificial intelligence logistics startups can offer. Together, both companies are testing self-driving trucks on a route in Arizona to determine whether the vehicles can improve service and efficiency in the UPS network; The company initiated a self-driving service in May 2019, with a driver and engineer in the vehicle. TuSimple can now monitor the distance and time the trucks travel autonomously, safety data and transport time.
TuSimple is currently operating in two markets: North America and China. Its North American operations are focused on self-driving technology for long-haul trucks, and in China, it is working on improving drayage operations and hauling cargo at ports. What sets its technology apart from the heavy competition in North America (aside from its laser lidar units, radar, and HD digital cameras) are its long-range cameras, which allow robot drivers to track conditions up to 1 kilometer ahead — further than its competitors. With high-grade partnerships, hundreds of millions in funding, and advanced technology behind them, TuSimple is well on its way to becoming a household name.
Founders: Mo Chen, Xiaodi Hou
Headquarters: San Diego, USA
Learn more about TuSimple:
- “UPS takes a minority stake in self-driving truck startup TuSimple” – TechCrunch
- “TuSimple adds another $120 million to its self-driving trucks war chest” – TechCrunch
Shippers have relied on phone calls and manual processes for far too long in nearly all logistics sectors. In 2013, FourKites started to change that with its AI-powered predictive supply chain visibility platform. Now, the company delivers real-time visibility and predictive analytics for a broad network of Fortune 500 companies and third-party logistics firms across 70 countries. Its load matching network allows world-class shippers, carriers, and 3PLs to collaborate across organizations.
FourKites’ actionable predictive intelligence platform is available for road freight, rail, ocean, and parcel supply chains worldwide. Its principal tracking algorithm integrates real-time data from the largest GPS, ELD and telematics networks with predictive weather, traffic, and mode-specific routing —- all of which leads to generating accurate arrival time predictions.
Founders: Mathew Joseph Elenjickal
Headquarters: Chicago, USA
Learn more about FourKites:
- “FourKites develops predictive ETA engine for loads” – Commercial Carrier Journal
- “Freight-Tracking Startup FourKites Raises $50 Million in New Backing” – The Wall Street Journal
With an established reputation for being one of the more secretive delivery robotics and artificial intelligence logistics startups, BoxBot has already garnered plenty of interest in its product since launching in 2016. The company has already raised $9 million over two rounds of early-stage venture capital from a handful of investors, including Toyota’s AI Ventures.
The startup hasn’t yet publicly offered much information about its operations, but according to its website, it will offer three tiers of service: self-driving vehicles, automated local hubs, and delivery automation software — all completely focused on last-mile delivery. Their software will help delivery networks use automation to reduce shipping costs and improve the reliability of that network, helping their partners deliver same-day and next-day deliveries faster and cheaper. The company says its product will integrate years of advancements in robotics and autonomous technologies into a scalable end-to-end solution built to optimize the experiences of both suppliers and consumers.
Founders: Austin Oehlerking, Mark Godwin
Headquarters: San Francisco, USA
Learn more about BoxBot:
- “8 robots racing to win the delivery wars of 2019” – Fast Company
- “Boxbot Raises $7.5 Million for its Autonomous Delivery Tech” – trucks.com
Founded in 2014, ClearMetal has already raised plenty of funding in the last five years: Over $12 million in total has been generated for its supply chain predictive analytics platform. Data management is a challenge for the entire logistics industry since every company has its own method of storing and managing data both manually and digitally. ClearMetal helps address that problem with its Continuous Data Management Platform, which continuously generates clean and accurate data that’s real-time and reflects the constantly changing elements impacting global transportation and ETAs. ClearMetal’s machine learning algorithms can now create a predictive model for 75 different elements of uncertainty, all of which update in real-time. The platform allows carriers and shippers to forecast as far away as eight weeks into the future, using both internal data from carrier operations and third-party data such as weather forecasts, labor issues, currency rates, and economic changes.
ClearMetal CEO and Co-Founder Adam Compain emphasized the importance of AI in the supply chain in an interview with Transmetrics. “By using AI, data from multiple sources can be automatically aggregated, cleaned, and reconciled to identify the most reliable information; further, this technology can surface the right information at the right time to the right supply chain professional—thereby preventing a whole lot of boring, manual, reactive work and instead enabling the people in this industry to be the strategic professionals they truly are.”
Founders: Adam Compain, Diego Canales, Will Harvey
Headquarters: San Francisco, USA
Learn more about ClearMetal:
- “ClearMetal Named a “Cool Vendor” by Gartner”
- “Logistics Startup of the Month: ClearMetal” – Transmetrics Blog
Fizyr is a Netherlands-based company that is amid artificial intelligence logistics startups focusing on deep learning technology for vision-guided robotics. This way, Fizyr provides machines with autonomous decision making in areas such as identifying, quality control, counting, picking, and manipulating goods. Robots programmed this way can take over a wide range of warehouse logistics tasks and execute them at great speed.
Fizyr CEO, Herbert ten Have, has said that “Robotics are scarce in logistics because they have difficulty handling variation. Every item looks different for a robot. We apply deep learning which allows robots to cope with a variation. Our software classifies parcels and can determine the best grasp location [and is] applied globally. This makes us unique and a perfect partner for the postal and logistics sector.”
Chief executive officer: Herbert ten Have
Headquarters: Delft, Netherlands
Learn More About Fizyr:
- Fizyr wins startup innovation at this year’s PostalPitch Startup Competition – Postal and Parcel Technology International
- Logistics Startup of the Month: Fizyr – Transmetrics Blog
GreyOrange represents a great among multinational artificial intelligence logistics startups combining expertise in industrial hardware and enterprise software to deliver AI-powered robotics solutions across industries and geographies. The company designs, manufactures and deploys advanced robotics systems for supply chain automation in distribution and fulfillment centers. Their ultimate mission is to use their AI solutions to increase efficiency no matter the industry.
The company is growing quickly, with more than 450 people as team members and a slew of warehouse solutions on the market. These include five products for goods-to-person systems and sortation systems: Butler and ButlerPickPal consist of goods-to-person devices for inventory storage, picking and order consolidation. Their sortation products include the Linear Sorter, a modular system for automating sorting processes; Flexo, a robot with modular components which can be configured to create solutions usable for a range of applications across retail and logistics industries; and Pick-Put-To-Light, a proprietary technology which improves operator’s productivity and enhances efficiency. These robots have already been launched among customer sites across the world, including Asia, Europe, and North and South America.
Founders: Akash Gupta, Samay Kohli, Wolfgang Hoeltgen
Learn More About GreyOrange:
- This company makes warehouse robots named Pickpal and the Butler to help retailers compete with Amazon – CNBC
- GreyOrange Prepares for the Holidays with New Sorters Across Asia – Post & Parcel
Most logistics professionals are well-aware that getting the best possible pricing proposal together for a door to door shipment can take hours or even days. Stargo is a great example among artificial intelligence logistics startups trying to reduce that time with its cloud-based pricing and proposal optimization solution. Its AI optimization engine helps select the best possible journey by taking into account the price, time, Incoterms, profit margins, size, and tens of other criteria.
After the success of its AI engine, the startup is now launching two more modules: StarDox and StarPay, which take any format or structure and reads, interprets, translates and structures that information and makes it available for data mining. “We realized that in most companies pricing and routing information lays scattered around in unstructured formats, databases, spreadsheets, pdf, emails, faxes and hence cannot be used for data mining,” said Joel Sellam, CEO and Founder of Stargo.
Founders: Joel Sellam
Learn more about Stargo: