The partnership will begin with a two-week trial.
The United States Postal Service is set to begin on Tuesday a two-week trial with autonomous truck maker TuSimple to explorer the benefits of driverless hub-to-hub mail delivery.
Over the course of that two-week trial period, three self-driving trucks provided by TuSimple will complete five round trips between USPS distribution hubs located in Dallas and Phoenix. Each truck will be staffed with a two-person crew, but the semis will drive themselves for the entire 22 hours it takes to complete the 1,065 mile journey.
Long-haul highway routes are the logical starting point for autonomous big rigs since they are typically less complicated, traffic-wise, than intercity lanes. Moreover, the route between Dallas and Phoenix provides the benefit of being mostly along I-10 and through states with good weather.
“This is our first real run that kind of stretches our legs,” Robert Brown, director of public affairs at TuSimple, told Automotive News. “It’s a sweet spot for autonomy.”
The USPS hasn’t committed to using autonomous semis on a full-time basis, but the technology could prove to be a time — and money saver — for the delivery service.
“For the Postal Service, automation is a good business model,” Brown said. “They have tight delivery windows with next-day and two-day shipping. Once you can remove hourly service constraints, that’s when it gets incredibly interesting.”
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