Freight flowing along the 1-10 corridor between Arizona and Texas accounts for 60% of total U.S. economic activity. Because it’s a long-haul route comprising 22 hours’ drive time, a team of two is required to complete the run. But the driver shortage and difficulty recruiting teams willing to share close quarters with each other pose a challenge.
TuSimple, a San Diego-based global self-driving truck company, recently announced the United States Postal Service (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.
A series of TuSimple’s self-driving trucks will follow I-10, I-20, and I-30 corridors for 22 hours each, including overnight driving, to make the trip through Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.
“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.
According to the American Trucking Association (ATA), the driver shortage could reach 175,000 by 2024. The USPS is exploring the feasibility of utilizing autonomous delivery vehicle technology to reduce fuel costs, increase safe truck operation and improve its fleet utilization rate through longer hours of operation.
TuSimple hopes to boost the $800-billion U.S. trucking industry by increasing safety, reducing carbon emissions and transportation costs, and optimizing logistics for fleet operators. With a 1000-meter vision range, TuSimple autonomous trucks are safer because they can see more and react faster than humans.