The pilot project will last two weeks and will include five round trips between USPS’s distribution centres in Phoenix, Arizona and Texas, which amounts to a stretch of 1600km. The trials will include overnight driving and will have both a safety driver and an engineer from TuSimple onboard. TuSimple will use Navistar trucks outfitted with their self-driving technology that relies mainly on cameras (nine cameras to be exact) but also includes LIDAR sensors.
Founder Xiaodi Hou made a statement concluding that many are still underestimating the progress of autonomous vehicles, especially related to trucking, and simultaneously estimates that making deliveries using TuSimple’s trucks cost 10% less per mile than using robot taxi companies such as Waymo.
While a two-week trial is a relatively short time to gather any substantial data on long-term effects, this is still a great opportunity for TuSimple to test their technology against the rigorous demands of real-world mail delivery demands.
Also, as postal services have struggled economically in the past decades, AVs might be the technology that eventually will help them get closer to a sustainable business model.
Written by Mahdere DW Amanuel, RISE Viktoria.