On May 21, 2019, the United States Postal Service (USPS) granted a contract to a self-driving truck company, TuSimple, in an effort to carry out five round trips over a two-week time span. The goal is to deliver USPS trailers over 1,000 miles between Phoenix, Arizona and Dallas, Texas, where the distribution centers are located. A safety engineer and driver will be stationed inside the vehicle during the journey to monitor performance and o ensure public safety.
The new route established by TuSimple will allow the company to create room for scalability for autonomous performance, expanding beyond Arizona and debuting their self-driving vehicles in Texas. TuSimple will be operating numerous of their trucks for 22 hours each, including overnight driving along the I-10, I-20 and I-30 corridors, traveling through Arizona and New Mexico until finally reaching Texas. All traffic that moves along the I-10 corridor makes up for 60 percent of the economic activity in the United States. The company plans on using this route more heavily due to high demands from customers for deliveries between Arizona and Texas.
Lengthy delivery routes with a short turnaround time are more suitable for self-driving vehicles due to the two-driver crew requirement. It can be a challenge to recruit new driving teams, especially with companies who will need to complete overnight deliveries and due to a truck driver shortage. American Truck Association (ATA) reported shortages that could reach up to 175,000 by 2024. TuSimple is on the brink of accomplishing their first driverless operation, which could lift a heavy load off human drivers, who can focus more on shorter, easily accessible and closer to home routes.
The Postal service is also looking for efficient ways to cut down on fuel costs by utilizing autonomous delivery vehicle technology, improve its transportation utilization rate via increased hours of operation and improving truck safety.
TuSimple is hoping to give a big boost to the $800-billion U.S. trucking industry by improving safety features, cutting down on carbon emissions and transportation costs. The TruSimple self-driving vehicles comes bundled with a 1000 meter vision range, allowing a safer experience on the roads due to their ability to see a lot more and they can react quicker than the average human driver in all types of weather.
Ford will also be joining the autonomous delivery service with a two-legged robot named "Digit." It's designed to transport delivery from the vehicle to the customer's door. The operational robot folds up in the rear of an autonomous vehicle, unfolding itself when it reaches its destination. Digit can also carry packages that weigh 40 pounds, walk on uneven terrain, travel up and down stairs and can even hold its balance during interference. The robot walks from the car to the door by using data collected from the autonomous vehicle. The car creates a detailed map of the area and transmits the data back to Digit. Both Digit and the vehicle can work together to come up with the best delivery route, effectively avoiding obstacles in the process.
Have a story tip? Message me at: cabe(at)element14(dot)com