USPS begins testing self-driving mail delivery

Posted May 21, 2019 by Karen Graham
The U.S. Postal Service on Tuesday 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.
Self-driving truck startup TuSimple will haul mail for USPS in two-week pilot.
Self-driving truck startup TuSimple will haul mail for USPS in two-week pilot.
San Diego, California-based startup, TuSimple announced on Tuesday its self-driving trucks will begin hauling mail between USPS facilities in Phoenix and Dallas on a two-week test of how the new technology might improve delivery times and costs, reports Reuters.
The demonstration will involve five round trips, each totaling more than 2,100 miles of driving using three of TuSimple's self-driving semis. There will be a safety engineer and driver on board each truck to monitor performance. TuSimple is being paid commercial shipping rates.
Should the demonstration be successful, it will be an achievement for the autonomous driving industry and provide a possible solution to the driver shortage and regulatory constraints faced by companies hauling freight across the country.
“The work with TuSimple is our first initiative in autonomous long-haul transportation,” USPS spokesperson Kim Frum told Reuters. “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 reveal the cost of the program but the USPS confirmed that no tax dollars were being used. TuSimple has raised $178 million in private financing, including from chipmaker Nvidia Corp and Chinese online media company Sina Corp.
"This run is really in the sweet spot of how we believe autonomous trucks will be used,” TuSimple Chief Product Officer Chuck Price told Reuters, reports The Hill. “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.”