The United States Postal Service announced that it has partnered up with TuSimple, a global self-driving truck company, for a two-week pilot that will see a self-driving truck perform five round trips between its distribution centers in Phoenix, Arizona and Dallas, Texas.
The contract was not awarded out of tax dollars, it was funded instead from the money earned from postage and other miscellaneous product sales.
The truck’s trips will total over 2,100 miles and rake up 45 hours of driving. But worry not: the truck won’t be out and about by itself – a safety driver and an engineer will also be present on board, ready to intervene at any moment in case anything goes wrong.
“It is exciting to think that before many people will ride in a robo-taxi, their mail and packages may be carried in a self-driving truck,” Dr. Xiaodi Hou, Founder, President and Chief Technology Officer of TuSimple said in a press statement. “Performing for the USPS on this pilot in this particular commercial corridor gives us specific use cases to help us validate our system, and expedite the technological development and commercialization progress.”
The Postal Service is exploring this route in order to decide if it’s a more feasible option that will cut down fuel costs, increase safe truck operations and overall improve its utilization rates, thanks to longer operating hours.