Startup focus: Optimal Dynamics drives logistical decisions with AI

Oct. 6, 2020

Optimal Dynamics aims to bring artificial intelligence to bear on the complex resource-allocation questions facing industries today. The company creates software that automates and optimizes decision making in situations where the sheer number of possible options for deploying resources makes planning difficult on the human scale.

Spun out from nearly 30 years of optimization research at Princeton, the company earlier this year raised $4 million in venture capital and now has 14 employees. Established in 2017, the company builds on the work of Princeton’s Warren Powell, Professor of Operations Research and Financial Engineering, Emeritus, and co-founder of the company, regarding decision making under uncertainty.

The first challenge the company is tackling is the automation of trucking-fleet operations. Fleet managers make numerous decisions about how to assign drivers and trucks to carry loads. Often, managers make these complex decisions by studying maps and juggling lists of load capacities and driver schedules.

"We aim to transform industries in which complex decisions are being made manually by providing automated systems capable of optimizing the use of resources in ways that unlock greater capabilities and save the customer money and time," said Daniel Powell, CEO and co-founder of Optimal Dynamics.

The company has developed a software-as-a-service product called to optimize the planning and decision-making process for freight-fleet managers. For example, the software can calculate the trucking routes that minimize driver fatigue and fuel usage while factoring in load capacity and meeting the demand from customers who are shipping goods.

The ultimate goal is to reduce time spent on planning and execution, while maximizing the use of resources and cutting costs.

Juliana Nascimento, who earned her Ph.D. at Princeton working with Professor Powell, is the company’s head of AI development. The team has developed statistically based methods involving artificial intelligence that quickly calculate the possible solutions to problems to derive the optimized solution.

The company eventually plans to offer optimization software for many industries and applications, such as supply-chain management, that involve making resource decisions.

By delivering better planning and operations, we free up the time of employees to tackle more rewarding challenges.
Daniel Powell
CEO and Co-founder
Optimal Dynamics