Aiming to cut costs, the U.S. Postal Service is testing self-driving trucks.
On May 21, USPS began a two-week pilot program using self-driven trucks to transport mail across three states in the Southwest. The test will cover 2,100 miles on major interstates in Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas.
This effort marks USPS’s first experiment with self-driving technology. In recent years, its revenue has declined with the volume of letters it processes, leading the company to seek cost-cutting measures.
Self-driving mail delivery trucks could solve another problem for USPS, as well. According to an estimate by the American Trucking Association, the U.S. will have a shortage of 174,000 drivers by 2024 due to an aging workforce and a lack of younger drivers.
TuSimple Technology is assisting USPS in this trial. The self-driving trucks can see more than half a mile ahead and have the ability to spot and react to emergency vehicles, pedestrians, and road hazards. During the test-runs, two humans — a driver and an engineer — are sitting in the cab to ensure the trip goes as smoothly as possible.
Other delivery services, including UPS and DHL, have begun exploring applications of self-driving technology, as well.
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