A San Diego-based self-driving truck startup will begin a new route—delivering mail. TuSimple, which has offices in San Diego and Beijing, was awarded a contract by the U.S. Postal Service for a two-week pilot to haul trailers between USPS distribution centers in Phoenix, Arizona and Dallas.
USPS is evaluating autonomous vehicle technology to reduce fuel costs, make truck operations safer and allow its fleet to operate for longer hours.
“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,” TuSimple Founder and Chief Technology Officer Xiaodi Hou said in a news release. “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’s autonomous trucks use computer vision technology to see and react to road conditions. The company boasts its camera systems have a 1,000-meter vision range. Though it plans for its trucks to be fully autonomous, the company keeps a safety engineer and driver on board for its pilot programs.
In February, TuSimple closed on a $95 million funding round, topping its valuation above $1 billion.
The company is building up its fleet of self-driving trucks, which currently run through Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. It hopes to have more than 50 autonomous trucks next month.