Vancouver smart logistics platform developer Routific, anticipating World Honey Bee Day on August 20, has revealed that it has taken inspiration in developing their vehicle route optimization algorithm from the “Bees Algorithm”.
Touted as a new breakthrough in tackling vehicle routing problems, Routific’s mimicking of honey bee behaviour as they forage for food promises to deliver savings on time and fuel of up to 40% for fleet management operations.
“We’re leveraging the age-old wisdom of honey bees in order to help delivery businesses work smarter and more efficiently,” said Routific Founder and CEO Marc Kuo. “Bees are some of the hardest working creatures on the planet, and they’re amazing team players. I can’t think of better inspiration for our team at Routific.”
The Bees Algorithm is a heuristic in computer science that mimics the food foraging behavior of swarms of honey bees, which have to cover long distances in multiple directions to harvest nectar and pollen from multiple flower patches, led by scout bees which not only evaluate the quality of food sources but also dictate the quickest route from flower-to-flower for the rest of the colony.
Not content only to claim bees as inspiration for developing their algorithm, Routific is also getting some actual experience with hands-on beekeeping from non-profit Hives for Humanity, which works with at-risk populations in Vancouver.
“We are thrilled Routific is raising awareness around pollinators and people in the city,” said Chief Beekeeper Julia Common. “Bees have experienced a drastic population decline around the world, but the good news is that we can all support pollinator health in our communities by planting gardens and supporting local beekeepers.”
Like many applications of technology to real-world problems, Routific helps delivery businesses to plan routes for more efficient transportation of goods to customers, which is still overwhelmingly managed using pen and paper in combination with gut instinct and experience.
Using Routific to optimize the routing process for deliveries shrinks planning times from a couple hours each day down to a few clicks.
Make no mistake, honey bees also still plan their routes using instinct and experience and won’t be using smartphone technology to improve the process any time soon, but they’re also unimaginably better at it than humans.
Forager honeybees in the wild can visit about 2,000 flowers each day looking for pollen and nectar, before exchanging information with the rest of the hive about flower locations, using movements known as a “waggle dance”.
Routific’s four co-founders, CEO Marc Kuo, CMO Suzanne Ma, CTO Andre Soesilo and COO Andrew Kwok, participated in the summer and fall 2015 cohort of the Chicago Techstars accelerator.
Kuo previously worked as a logistics consultant in the Netherlands, and then in Hong Kong as an algorithmic trader.
“I started Routific because I saw so much waste in the supply chain, and I recognized that I could do something to help reduce inefficiencies on a grand scale,” said Kuo. “I determined the need for a modern cloud-based routing solution that’s functional, easy-to-use and affordable.”
Routific’s investors include Techstars Chicago, Pallasite Ventures, Firestarter Fund and Axiom Zen.
In February, Routific announced that it had doubled its number of employees and optimized 5,227,526 routes around the world expanding from 5 cities to 256 cities during the previous year.
They also signed their first major enterprise deal with a $600 million e-commerce company.
FedEx and UPS already use their own internally developed route optimization software, but Routific is in talks with DHL, which does not, and is concentrating on the thousands of smaller delivery operators that would otherwise have to develop in-house delivery optimization solutions of their own.