Autonomous Tech Maker Promising To “Replace Truckers” Will Test With USPS
San Diego, California – Autonomous truck company, TuSimple, believes they will meet their stated goal of beginning to replace America’s truck drivers by the end of 2020, and they are hoping some of those replaced truck drivers will be those currently employed by the United States Postal Service (USPS).
On Tuesday, the global self-driving truck company announced that the USPS has awarded it a contract to perform five round trips, for a two-week pilot, hauling USPS trailers more than 1,000 miles between the Postal Service’s Phoenix, Arizona and Dallas, Texas distribution centers.
The truck will have a safety engineer and driver on board for the duration of the pilot to monitor vehicle performance and to ensure public safety, TuSimple said in an announcement.
TuSimple hopes to scale its autonomous operations beyond Arizona, where its driverless trucks have been operating along I-10 since late August of last year.
The company is under non-disclosure agreements, hauling three loads per day for a dozen carriers, as Transportation Nation Network (TNN) reported earlier this year.
TuSimple says it will run a series of its self-driving trucks for 22 hours each, which includes overnight driving, along the I-10, I-20 and I-30 corridors to make the trip through Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.
The freight that flows along the I-10 corridor accounts for 60 percent of the total economic activity in the United States, so TuSimple expects this to be a central route for the company.
“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, 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.”
TuSimple believes long-haul routes with short turnaround times, such as this 22 hour journey, are well suited for self-driving trucks.
Earlier this year, TNN reported on an explosive interview given by a TuSimple executive in which he explained the company’s plan to begin replacing truck drivers by the end of 2020.
Chuck Price, TuSimple’s Chief Product Officer, told the Houston Chronicle that the business case for deploying autonomous trucks and replacing truck drivers was very strong.
“I find buyers right now who say that if you can make this happen, then I’m buying them by the gross,” Price said.
“Since autonomy does not have the get-home-itis that a human driver has, it’s motivated in different ways.”
A recent study by the U.S. Government and Accountability Office (GAO) blew the whistle on those downplaying the impact autonomous trucks may have on the labor market in the coming years.
The GAO warned as many as 900,000 professional truckers could be displaced by the emerging technology possibly within the next decade.
In Tuesday’s announcement, the company says it is well on its way to achieving the “first driverless operations” which is intended to “free human drivers to focus on the shorter, more dynamic and closer to home routes.”
TuSimple says its trucks are safer for the motoring public and will reduce transportation costs for motor carriers and shippers.
(Image courtesy of TuSimple)