U.S. Postal Service tests self-driving trucks for mail delivery
Two week-trial will use start-up TuSimple trucks across three US states
The U.S. Postal Service has started using self-driving trucks to transport mail across three Southwestern states, Reuters has reported.
Quoted by Reuters, San Diego-based start-up TuSimple said USPS will use its self-driving trucks to move mail between USPS facilities in Phoenix and Dallas to see how the self-driving 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 a significant accomplishment for the nascent autonomous driving technology. Without the need of a driver, shippers and freight-haulers will potentially be freed from the constraints of a worsening driver shortage in the US. 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.
The two-week pilot program involves five round trips, each totalling more than 3,380 km or around 45 hours of driving. The trucks will travel on major interstates and pass through Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.
TuSimple’s tie-up with the USPS marks another feather in the cap 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.