Honeybees Help Shorten Delivery Routes

DC Velocity     By DC Velocity Staff     September 26, 2016

Software mimics bees' behavior to find optimal travel paths for trucks.

One of the biggest challenges in last-mile delivery is calculating the shortest path for a truck to reach all of its destinations, shaving off any unnecessary miles with an eye toward saving time and fuel, and reducing pollution. Despite the big stakes, a Vancouver, B.C., startup says its inspiration for creating a highly efficient new route optimization program came from a small source—the honeybee.

Routific Inc. has designed a routing application inspired by the "Bees Algorithm," an algorithm developed in 2005 that uses the food-foraging behavior of honeybee swarms as a model for performing complex mathematical optimization calculations.

Bee colonies cover long distances in every direction to harvest nectar and pollen from multiple flower patches, then find the quickest route from flower to flower, the company says. Applied to last-mile parcel delivery, that approach can help carriers cut operating costs and reduce their carbon footprint.

"We're leveraging the age-old wisdom of honeybees in order to help delivery businesses work smarter and more efficiently," said Routific founder and CEO Marc Kuo in a press release. "Bees are some of the hardest-working creatures on the planet, and they're amazing team players."