The US Postal tests out self-driving trucks for hauling mail

Home 9 Blog ENG 9 The US Postal tests out self-driving trucks for hauling mail

Jun 17, 2019

The U.S. Postal Service started a two-week test transporting mail across three Southwestern states using self-driving trucks, a step forward in the effort to commercialize autonomous vehicle technology for hauling freight.

San Diego-based startup TuSimple said its self-driving trucks will begin hauling mail between USPS facilities in Phoenix and Dallas to see how the nascent technology might improve delivery times and costs. A safety driver will sit behind the wheel to intervene if necessary and an engineer will ride in the passenger seat.

If successful, it would mark an achievement for the autonomous driving industry and a possible solution to the driver shortage and regulatory constraints faced by freight haulers across the country.

The pilot program involves five round trips, each totaling more than 2,100 miles (3,380 km) or around 45 hours of driving. It is unclear whether self-driving mail delivery will continue after the two-week pilot.

“The work with TuSimple is our first initiative in autonomous long-haul transportation,” USPS spokeswoman Kim Frum said. “We are conducting research and testing as part of our efforts to operate a future class of vehicles which will incorporate new technology.”

TuSimple and the USPS declined to disclose the cost of the program, but Frum said no tax dollars were used and the agency relies on revenue from sales of postage and other products. TuSimple has raised $178 million in private financing, including from chipmaker Nvidia Corp and Chinese online media company Sina Corp.

The trucks will travel on major interstates and pass through Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.

“This run is really in the sweet spot of how we believe autonomous trucks will be used,” said TuSimple Chief Product Officer Chuck Price. “These long runs are beyond the range of a single human driver, which means today if they do this run they have to figure out how to cover it with multiple drivers in the vehicle.”

The goal is to eliminate the need for a driver, freeing shippers and freight-haulers from the constraints of a worsening driver shortage. The American Trucking Associations estimates a shortage of as many as 174,500 drivers by 2024, due to an aging workforce and the difficulty of attracting younger drivers.

A new safety law requiring truck drivers to electronically log their miles has further constrained how quickly and efficiently fleets can move goods.

TuSimple’s tie-up with the USPS marks an achievement for the fledgling self-driving truck industry, and follows Swedish company Einride’s entry into freight delivery using driverless electric trucks on a public road, announced last week.

The developments contrast with retrenching efforts by robotaxi companies such as General Motors Co unit Cruise, Uber Technologies Inc and startup Drive.ai, which have stumbled in building self-driving cars that can anticipate and respond to humans and navigate urban areas, an expensive and technologically challenging feat.

Price said self-driving trucks have advantages over passenger cars, including the relative ease of operating on interstates compared with city centers, which reduces mapping requirements and safety challenges involving pedestrians and bicyclists.

Altre News

Renault trucks to offer an electric range for each market segment

Renault trucks to offer an electric range for each market segment

Renault Trucks is pursuing its investment in electric mobility. From 2023, an all-electric Renault Trucks offer will be available for each segment, namely distribution, construction and long distance. To support these developments and be able to offer a complete...

Scania reports progress on climate targets

Scania reports progress on climate targets

For the first time since Scania set its Science Based Targets, the company reports on the progress on emission reduction both from its own operations and from vehicles in use.  In its own operations, Scania has already decreased carbon emissions by 43 percent...

On the road with Kristo Boginski

On the road with Kristo Boginski

Today, technologies and video equipment allow us to shoot all kinds of high quality and in any context. And so Kristo Boginski, a young truck driver with a passion for videos, has seen fit to create a Youtube channel where to upload the POV (Point of view, then filmed...

Iveco celebrates Women’s Day

Iveco celebrates Women’s Day

Three women, one big dream: to make a career in the Trucks Business. For International Women's Day Iveco tells the story of Judith Ehrmann, a truck racing team mechanic, Lorella Della Torre, who has carved out a career as Truck Sales Manager, and Oti Cabadas, a truck...

Volvo buses launches an all new 4-metre-high double decker for Europe

Volvo buses launches an all new 4-metre-high double decker for Europe

Volvo Buses is launching an entirely new 4-metre-high version of its double decker, the Volvo 9700 DD, tailored for operations all over Europe. With this latest addition to the product range Volvo Buses now offers customers one of the widest and most flexible ranges...

IVECO celebrates 75th anniversary of heritage brand Pegaso

IVECO celebrates 75th anniversary of heritage brand Pegaso

Seventy-five years from the creation of the Pegaso brand in Spain, its heritage of passion, pioneering spirit and strength lives on in IVECO’s DNA. The historic Spanish brand Pegaso was founded by Empresa Nacional de Autocamiones (ENASA) in 1947, taking the...