Self-driving trucks begin mail delivery test for U.S. Postal Service

(Reuters) – 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.

The TuSimple self-driving truck is pictured in this undated handout photo obtained by Reuters May 20, 2019. TuSimple/Handout via REUTERS

San Diego-based startup TuSimple said its self-driving trucks will begin hauling mail between USPS facilities in Phoenix and Dallas to see how the nascent 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 an achievement for the autonomous driving industry and a possible solution to the driver shortage and regulatory constraints faced by freight haulers across the country.

The pilot program involves five round trips, each totaling more than 2,100 miles (3,380 km) or around 45 hours of driving. It is unclear whether self-driving mail delivery will continue after the two-week pilot.

“The work with TuSimple is our first initiative in autonomous long-haul transportation,” USPS spokeswoman Kim Frum said. “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 disclose the cost of the program, but Frum said no tax dollars were used and the agency relies on revenue from sales of postage and other products. TuSimple has raised $178 million in private financing, including from chipmaker Nvidia Corp and Chinese online media company Sina Corp.

The trucks will travel on major interstates and pass through Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.

“This run is really in the sweet spot of how we believe autonomous trucks will be used,” said TuSimple Chief Product Officer Chuck Price. “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.”

The goal is to eliminate the need for a driver, freeing shippers and freight-haulers from the constraints of a worsening driver shortage. 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.

A new safety law requiring truck drivers to electronically log their miles has further constrained how quickly and efficiently fleets can move goods.

TuSimple’s tie-up with the USPS marks an achievement 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.

The developments contrast with retrenching efforts by robotaxi companies such as General Motors Co unit Cruise, Uber Technologies Inc and startup Drive.ai, which have stumbled in building self-driving cars that can anticipate and respond to humans and navigate urban areas, an expensive and technologically challenging feat.

Price said self-driving trucks have advantages over passenger cars, including the relative ease of operating on interstates compared with city centers, which reduces mapping requirements and safety challenges involving pedestrians and bicyclists.

Reporting by Heather Somerville in San Francisco; Editing by Lisa Shumaker

Source link

more recommended stories

  • Trump says U.S. would tax French wine in response to digital tax

    U.S. President Donald Trump speaks with.

  • App looks to get tips from coffee drinkers to Colombia growers

    BOGOTA (Reuters) – An app that.

  • U.S. House lawmakers ask regulators to scrutinize bank cloud providers

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Two U.S. lawmakers.

  • VMware to pay $5 billion for firms offering cloud security, developers platform

    (Reuters) – VMware Inc said on.

  • Volkswagen not interested in buying Tesla stake

    FILE PHOTO: Volkswagen AG CEO Dr..

  • Splunk to buy cloud software firm SignalFx in $1 billion deal

    (Reuters) – Data analytics software maker.

  • Ahead of G7 summit, Macron presses U.S. to help reform taxes on big tech

    FILE PHOTO: French President Emmanuel Macron.

  • Citigroup, BNP caught up in U.S. case against Huawei CFO: documents

    NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S.-based Citigroup.

  • Intel unveils first artificial intelligence chip Springhill

    FILE PHOTO: Computer chip maker Intel’s.

  • Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi posts 15% rise in sales, misses estimates

    FILE PHOTO: Xiaomi branding is seen.

  • Sony to buy ‘Spider-Man’ developer Insomniac Games

    FILE PHOTO: The logo of Sony.

  • U.S. grants Huawei another 90 days to buy from American suppliers

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States.

  • Shell debuts electric vehicle chargers in Singapore, first in Southeast Asia

    FILE PHOTO – A sign is.

  • Exclusive: U.S. set to give Huawei another 90 days to buy from American suppliers – sources

    SINGAPORE/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Commerce.

  • Alibaba and the $15 billion question: Amid Hong Kong’s protests, when to list?

    HONG KONG (Reuters) – Hong Kong’s.

  • Exclusive: U.S. to extend Huawei’s partial reprieve on supply curbs – sources

    SINGAPORE/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Commerce.

  • China’s Ninebot unveils scooters that drive themselves to charging stations

    BEIJING/HONG KONG (Reuters) – Segway-Ninebot Group,.

  • Amazon.com defeats IRS appeal in U.S. tax dispute

    (Reuters) – Amazon.com Inc on Friday.

  • Rental firm walks away from Tesla order after quality dispute

    FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Car rental company.

  • STAR Market tech board offers hope to Chinese venture capitalists

    SHANGHAI/HONG KONG (Reuters) – When Chinese.

  • Nvidia revenue tops expectations on strength in video gaming, auto units

    (Reuters) – Nvidia Corp’s quarterly revenue.

  • Online spending helps UK retail sales grow unexpectedly in July

    LONDON (Reuters) – British retail sales.

  • China’s Lenovo first-quarter profit more than doubles on record PC market share

    (Reuters) – Chinese PC maker Lenovo.

  • FCC chairman circulates order to approve Sprint, T-Mobile tie-up

    FILE PHOTO: A smartphone with Sprint.

  • U.S. aviation regulator bans select MacBook Pro laptops from flights

    FILE PHOTO: Apple company logos are.

  • Facebook paid contractors to transcribe users’ audio: Bloomberg

    FILE PHOTO: Attendees walk past a.

  • Exclusive: Google’s jobs search draws antitrust complaints from rivals

    BRUSSELS/SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Google’s fast-growing.

  • Colombia fines Uber more than $629,000 for obstructing regulatory visit

    BOGOTA (Reuters) – Colombia’s commerce regulator.

  • Deliveroo quits Germany to focus on other markets

    FILE PHOTO: A biker wearing a.

  • Russia tells Google not to advertise ‘illegal’ events after election protests

    MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia’s state communications.

  • Tesla electric car catches fire after hitting tow truck in Moscow

    Joe Young, media relations associate for.

  • China to push to attract more high-tech manufacturers

    FILE PHOTO: Employees work at a.