Self-driving trucks operated by technology startup TuSimple will haul mail and packages across the Southwest in a two-week pilot program.
The US Postal Service has awarded a contract to TuSimple, a firm that aims to bring the first self-driving truck to market. The technology firm said it is planning to perform five round trips in total between Postal Service distribution centers in Phoenix and Dallas, a journey of more than 1,000 miles each way through Arizona, New Mexico and Texas along interstates 10, 20 and 30. The runs began last week as scheduled.
Self-driving 18-wheelers built by startup TuSimple will haul trailers full of mail and packages for two weeks. The trucks won’t be totally unmanned as a safety engineer and a driver will be aboard to monitor vehicle performance as it drives autonomously on the highway and to ensure traffic safety. They will handle the driving on surface streets and take control of the robot when needed.
Each trip will last 22 hours, including overnight driving. The drivers will be swapped up at stopping points to comply with hours-of-service limits.
TuSimple plans freight runs between Arizona and Texas to become a core route for its self-driving truck business, said Chuck Price, chief product officer at the company.
He added that there was a lot of interest from a number of shippers to utilize the self-driving trucks, but did not identify specific companies.
The startup TuSimple, founded in 2015, has dual headquarters in Beijing and San Diego. The firm operates its fleet of self-driving vehicles out of Tucson, Ariz, and is in the process of expanding that fleet to 50 vehicles.
Earlier this year, TuSimple announced it raised $95 million in its Series D round of funding, which lifted the firm’s total funding to $178 million.
According to TTNews.