A driver and a safety engineer will be onboard to monitor the performance of the truck.
Driverless truck startup TuSimple will be collaborating with the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) for the postal services between Phoenix, Arizona and Dallas, Texas, a thousand-mile route. On May 21, 2019, the company revealed that USPS has granted the contract for five round trips over the course of two weeks. The trips will be accompanied by a safety engineer and driver onboard to monitor their performance. “It is exciting to think that before many people will ride in a robot-taxi, their mail and packages may be carried in a self-driving truck,” said TuSimple’s president, founder, and chief technology officer Dr. Xiaodi Hou.
The postal service has been exploring this idea for some time while recently asking the bids to put a semi-autonomous mail truck on the road. It will allow humans to the mail while truck being autonomously driven no their route. “We are conducting research and testing as part of our efforts to operate a future class of vehicles which will incorporate new technology to accommodate a diverse mail mix, enhance safety, improve service, reduce emissions, and produce operational savings,” said USPS spokesperson Kim Frum. The pilot program, which is only for five runs, is scheduled in late May.
For TuSimple, the test runs are the chance to validate its version of the semi-automatic drive that will change the dynamics and cost of long-haul trucking. TuSimple was founded in 2015 and has raised US$ 178 million in four rounds of funding with 17 self-driving semi-trucks. Autonomous trucking has become a massive area of investment for private equity investors with various startups raising millions of dollars including Boxbot Ike. The major aim behind this is common: reducing the cost of shipping with autonomous trucks.
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