Using self-driving trucks built by TuSimple, the rigs will haul trailers with a certified driver and safety engineer aboard, who will take over driving on streets and be there to take over if needed. Long-range, the plan is out to determine to what extent the USPS can rely on driverless trucks to lower its long term costs.
In doing so, the USPS is staying current with is competitors. UPS, Federal Express, Amazon are all testing delivery systems that involve driverless vehicles and drones.
The USPS pilot project will last two weeks and include five round trips between the cities’ distribution hubs.
Most of the public does not realize that the USPS receives no tax dollar support. It has posted a loss every year for more than a decade. And it is a favorite punching bag of Republicans in Congress. The USPS has a charter of delivering mail all over the country regardless of difficulty, has what it can charge controlled by Congress, but receives no tax support.
Last February, the USPS issued a request for information for how autonomous vehicles could fit into its fleet. And it’s working with the University of Michigan on a self-driving truck to handle rural routes. In a statement, a spokesperson called the pilot “just one of many ways the postal service is innovating and investing in its future.”
For TuSimple, it’s the chance to get on the map. TuSimple, based in San Diego and Beijing, says its cameras can identify threats to the vehicle a half-mile away.
To build a high-resolution record of three freeways in three states, TuSimple executed an upgrade of its mapping infrastructure. For the 1,000-mile, 20-hour drive, it increased the truck’s hard drive storage space to handle all the data the system will produce.
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