The U.S. Postal Service, starting Tuesday, is partnering with autonomous truck company TuSimple on a two-week pilot project that will automate trips between distribution hubs in Dallas and Phoenix.
“This is our first real run that kind of stretches our legs,” said Robert Brown, director of public affairs at TuSimple. “It’s a sweet spot for autonomy.”
Though the two-person crews will adhere to hours-of-service limits during the project, switching drivers at various points during the 22-hour journey, the trucks will complete the 1,065-mile journey without much of a reprieve. That will allow the Postal Service and TuSimple to better understand operations on lengthy routes that cross jurisdictional boundaries at various times of day.
Human safety drivers remain a vital component of the testing. Further afield, TuSimple expects to launch fully self-driving operations, without safety drivers, in late 2020 or 2021. The company has more than 50 trucks in its fleet. With its U.S. headquarters in San Diego, the company has set up a testing base in Tucson, Ariz., from which it has contracted with multiple companies to carry goods within the state.