TuSimple Testing Self-Driving Trucks for US Postal Service

TuSimple self-driving trucks is starting a short pilot program with the US Postal Service. They will complete five round trips between Phoenix and Dallas using autonomous semis operated by TuSimple. Letters and packages moving between Phoenix and Dallas will travel on customized Peterbilt trucks run by TuSimple.

The Postal Service spends more than $4 billion per year on highway trucking services through outside contractors. Those costs have been rising due to a national shortage of drivers. Self-driving trucks could save hundreds of millions by eliminating human drivers and the hours-of-service rules that keep them from driving round the clock.

In 2017, the Postal Service reported a plan to add semiautonomous mail trucks — Autonomous Rural Delivery Vehicles — to its 228,000-vehicle fleet as early as 2025.

Today, TuSimple has three to five fully autonomous, revenue-generating trips a day for over a dozen customers on three different routes in Arizona. By June the TuSimple US fleet will grow to 11 to 50 trucks. They plan to end 2019 with 200-truck fleet in the U.S. and a 300-truck fleet in China. This might make them the largest self-driving truck solutions company in the world.

There are many competing self-driving truck companies Thor Trucks, Pronto.ai, Aurora, Embark, Swedish driverless car company Einride and many more.

There could be 6,700 self-driving trucks around the world by the end of this year with a total of cost of over $50 billion. The world cargo transportation industry wants to save over $70 billion a year and boosting productivity by 30 percent or more. There is currently a shortage of 50,000 truck drivers in the US alone. By 2026, the shortage of truck drivers is projected to reach 175,000.

On average, there have been 3,513 fatal crashes and over 75,000 injury crashes per year involving large trucks since 2010. Self-driving trucks will be safer and will reduce deaths and injuries.

The USA has 3.6 million heavy-duty Class 8 trucks and over 3.5 million truck drivers.

TuSimple was founded in 2015 with the goal of making full self-driving truck driving solutions. They have raised $178 million in funding. they use computer vision, algorithms, mapping, and artificial intelligence (AI). The TuSimple solution will allow freight to be moved with greater safety and improved cost efficiency.

TuSimple has the first 1,000-meter perception system. They use an eight-camera array and other sensors. At highway speeds, 1000 meters provides 35 seconds of reaction time, enabling the system to make the safest and most efficient driving decisions. Lidar (Laser Radar) have a range of 250-300 meters. The TuSimple trucks maintain position to a three-centimeter precision.

They have AI capable of long-distance highway driving and complex surface street driving – enabling fully autonomous deliveries from one depot to another.

The system works even in bad weather conditions like rain or snow.

SOURCES – TuSimple, Bloomberg
Written By Brian Wang, Nextbigfuture.com

12 thoughts on “TuSimple Testing Self-Driving Trucks for US Postal Service”

  1. Yes, but since they are making – I assume – custom trailers for their trucks for their US mail customer, adding a connector for video and a video camera would not be all that hard. They already have to connect lights and brakes anyway, and here you would add another connector

    But perhaps they are thinking to sell the vast majority of the cabs without any trailers, i.e. the trailers will be delivered by some other company. Perhaps trailers is one of those things that are low value added and under massive price competition. If you remove this part from your sales, your sales will have a better gross margin..

  2. Except that the cab is separate from the trailer. You would have to have a standardized trailer or have someone wire up/down each trailer each time.

  3. The value of seeing behind your vehicle should be almost exactly the same for a car and a truck. There is some use for this information.. For instance, you can speed up slightly if you notice someone close behind you as to decrease the risk of collision. If you see someone behind you, you will take into account the possibility that this driver may want to pass you, which gives you information about the probably future traffic situation around you.

    This is the reason why most drivers (in cars) will use the rear view mirror extensively when driving on the freeway. But a truck has a trailer behind it, so using the rear view mirror is not an option. The truck driver may want to swap trailers, and moving a camera from trailer to another would be impractical. Here, there will be a custom system and (presumably) custom trailers. No real reason not to use a rear camera..

  4. TuSimple is a Chinese company. Anybody see a problem here? The folks who are developing American military proof weapons or are trying to? Brian can tell you what the word for “Maximum Overdrive” is, I’m sure. No way, or Huawei?

  5. The routes will be regular and of a predetermined distance. As they said, “between Phoenix and Dallas”. Semis can generally go about 2,000 miles on a full load of fuel (300 gallons generally). That is right about the amount needed for the whole round trip. But my guess is that they will fill up at both ends. Probably 30% more than is needed, to save weight, but still be prepared for bad weather, heavy traffic and lousy drivers.

  6. Former trucker here. You can get between Dallas and Phoenix on one tank (or pair in this case) and all you need is a refueling truck when it gets there, or a truck driver to drive it to PO fuel pump or designated card lock station once the trailer is parked and dropped. Same for backing it up to a dock if the onboard AD can’t deal with that yet.

  7. Amazingly enough, truck drivers can’t see exactly behind them either. You can’t be responsible for idiots following to close or just driving into the rear of the truck. And they do. As a driver…not a thing you can do about it. Sure you could have a camera, so you can tense up when they hit you…and have worse injuries. The only real reason for a camera in back is to assist in backing up.

  8. isn’t that extremely easy to solve by having larger gas tanks that last for the entire trip, or by having a couple of pre-arranged facilities where gas will be dispensed? both solutions take really no time or major effort and it is not that they don’t know with very good accuracy where they will be when they are running short on gas. If this is the sort of issues that will stomp developers, we certainly will make no advances…

  9. Yes, but the autonomous vehicle still has to “present itself” for refueling, and some sort of payment arrangement has to be made, presumably in advance, so a robot is not needed. I say “robot” half in jest, but what is the mechanism for this? It’s not explained in the article.

  10. Uh, does it come with an autonomous robot to fill the tanks with fuel too? Seems to me you’d need to do that at least once during the trip. Do robots carry money for gas?

  11. From the image, it seems that their system does not look straight backwards. There seems to be a “dead zone” right behind the truck extending backwards. Mistake in image or real feature?

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