Wise Systems, the developer of autonomous routing and dispatch software for delivery fleets, has raised $7 million in a series A round of funding led by Gradient Ventures — Google’s artificial intelligence (A.I.)-focused investment fund.
Additional participants in the round include Neoteny, E14 Fund, Trucks Venture Capital, and Fontinalis Partners.
Founded out of Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 2014, Wise Systems targets retailers, distributors, shippers, and couriers with software that automates many of the processes involved in getting goods from A to B. This includes scheduling and monitoring routes, with a built-in mechanism that rearranges stops and adjusts routes in real-time based on anticipated delays due to traffic and other factors — this leans heavily on machine learning smarts that monitor data points to improve delivery fleets’ performance over time.
Feeding into this, is a mobile app for drivers, which lets them log arrival and departure times, capture signatures, and record notes manually, while on the customer-facing end there is a hub for to track delivery status and real-time arrival schedule.
Prior to now, Wise Systems had raised around $1 million, and with another $7 million in the bank, it said that it plans to double down on its operational growth and invest in R&D centered on AI-powered delivery management.
“Autonomous dispatch and routing is the next-generation technology that logistics professionals need to meet the increasingly complex requirements of the rapidly evolving economy,” noted Wise Systems CEO Chazz Sims. “Our technology positions fleets to meet today’s and tomorrow’s needs, reshaping delivery in the $10 trillion logistics and transportation industry.”
Google’s parent company Alphabet has operated a number of investment funds for some time already, but last July Google itself announced a new venture fund targeting early-stage AI startups. Since its inception, Gradient Ventures has invested in less than a dozen startups, including biomedical startup BenchSci.
The delivery and logistics industry is ripe for investment, with a number of big technology companies pushing resources into the sphere.
Walmart recently launched Spark Delivery, a crowdsourced pilot delivery program similar to Amazon Flex, while Amazon also announced that it is looking to create a network of independent delivery fleets to bolster its existing network of third-party providers. Elsewhere, Uber launched its Uber Freight trucking business last year as it sought to expand beyond its consumer ride-hailing and food delivery businesses. As it happens, Uber revealed last week that it was to begin using machine learning to provide shippers with accurate rates up to 2 weeks in advance.
Meanwhile, Google too has invested in the delivery and logistics realm — in October it joined a $40 million investment in same-day delivery platform Deliv. So it perhaps it should come as little surprise given activity elsewhere in the technology industry that its AI-focused venture fund would seek to invest in a company such as Wise Systems.
“With their applications of machine learning already delivering bottom-line savings and top-line expansion features to customers, we are excited to support Wise Systems’ continued growth,” added Gradient Ventures managing partner Anna Patterson. “Wise’s large customers are redefining their abilities and re-setting expectations of last mile delivery for the on-demand age.”