Analytics and machine learning in vehicle routing research

Ruibin Bai*, Xinan Chen, Zhi Long Chen, Tianxiang Cui, Shuhui Gong, Wentao He, Xiaoping Jiang, Huan Jin, Jiahuan Jin, Graham Kendall, Jiawei Li, Zheng Lu, Jianfeng Ren, Paul Weng, Ning Xue, Huayan Zhang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


The Vehicle Routing Problem (VRP) is one of the most intensively studied combinatorial optimisation problems for which numerous models and algorithms have been proposed. To tackle the complexities, uncertainties and dynamics involved in real-world VRP applications, Machine Learning (ML) methods have been used in combination with analytical approaches to enhance problem formulations and algorithmic performance across different problem solving scenarios. However, the relevant papers are scattered in several traditional research fields with very different, sometimes confusing, terminologies. This paper presents a first, comprehensive review of hybrid methods that combine analytical techniques with ML tools in addressing VRP problems. Specifically, we review the emerging research streams on ML-assisted VRP modelling and ML-assisted VRP optimisation. We conclude that ML can be beneficial in enhancing VRP modelling, and improving the performance of algorithms for both online and offline VRP optimisations. Finally, challenges and future opportunities of VRP research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4-30
Number of pages27
JournalInternational Journal of Production Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • data driven methods
  • machine learning
  • uncertainties
  • Vehicle routing


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