The Postal Service is piloting self-driving mail trucks

Enlarge ImageIt's unclear if the trucks will carry USPS branding or if the cabs will sport the same Tu Simple getup seen here.                  TuSimple

Enlarge ImageIt's unclear if the trucks will carry USPS branding or if the cabs will sport the same Tu Simple getup seen here. TuSimple

In other words, you're not going to see a self-driving mail truck coming down your street. The trial will include five round trips between USPS distribution centers in Phoenix, Arizona, and Dallas, Texas. It's the first time that the Postal Service has contracted with an autonomous provider for long-haul service.

"This pilot is just one of many ways the Postal Service is innovating and investing in its future". After the initial trial, which is expected to last about two weeks, the Postal Service will assess whether to continue working with TuSimple.

A new safety law requiring truck drivers to electronically log their miles has further constrained how quickly and efficiently fleets can move goods. It will allow the Postal Service to test TuSimple's Level 4 systems in both daytime and nighttime traffic.

TuSimple says a safety engineer and driver will be on board to monitor the trucks during the two-week pilot program.

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The United States Postal Service (USPS) has announced that they are testing out driverless truck technology for hauling mail on a more than 20 hour route usually reserved for team truck drivers. Those costs have been rising due to a national shortage of drivers. The company said the 22-hour route is the flawless demonstration for the potential benefits of the technology, because it typically requires two drivers in conventional trucks. 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", said TuSimple Chief Product Officer Chuck Price. Its trucks have been carrying cargo for customers in Arizona since past year.

Price said that drivers who encounter a TuSimple truck on the interstate between Phoenix and Dallas probably won't notice: "It's polite". They're confident that their autonomous rigs will also be safer, since things like driver fatigue don't come into play.

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