TuSimple, a self-driving truck company with major research and development operations in Tucson, is preparing to make its Texas debut.
The company has partnered with the United State Postal Service to perform five round trips for a two-week pilot, hauling USPS trailers more than 1,000 miles between the postal service’s Phoenix and Dallas distribution centers, according to a TuSimple news release.
The postal service is exploring the feasibility of using autonomous delivery vehicle technology to reduce fuel costs, increase safe truck operation and improve its fleet utilization through longer hours of operation, the news release said.
“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 Xiaodi Hou, founder, president and chief technology officer of TuSimple.
The truck will have a safety engineer and driver on board to monitor vehicle performance and to ensure public safety.
The self-driving semis will run for 22 hours, including overnight driving along the Interstate 10, 20 and 30 corridors, traveling through Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.
The company expects this to be a central route because there is demand for runs between Arizona and Texas. TuSimple says long-haul routes with short turnaround times are well suited for self-driving trucks because they are normally accomplished with driving teams of two, which are challenging to recruit due to overnight driving requirements, the need to share close quarters and the truck driver shortage.
TuSimple’s Level 4 fully autonomous semi-trucks use a system built around cameras that allow them to “see” 1,000 meters ahead of the vehicle, farther than other systems using radars or lasers.
TuSimple has 15 undisclosed contracted customers, “including Fortune 100 and large international companies.”