TuSimple earlier this week kicked off a self-driving pilot program with the U.S. Postal Service (USPS).
Using customized Peterbilt trucks, TuSimple is conducting five round trips over two weeks to U.S. Postal Service distribution centers between Phoenix and Dallas, a distance of more than 1,000 miles. A safety engineer and driver will be on board at all times to monitor vehicle performance and to ensure public safety.
“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,” said Dr. Xiaodi Hou, founder, president and chief technology officer of TuSimple. “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 said it is the first time it has worked with an autonomous technology provider for longhaul services. After the two-week pilot concludes, the Postal Service said it will assess whether to continue working with TuSimple.
TuSimple said this represents its self-driving debut in Texas. Previously its U.S.-based testing has been confined to Arizona. During the pilot, TuSimple said it will run a series of its self-driving trucks for 22 hours each, including overnight driving on multiple interstates.
The company said this pilot program is another step toward “achieving its milestone of first driverless operations which is intended to free human drivers to focus on the shorter, more dynamic and closer to home routes.”