Last week the United States Postal Service (USPS) used self-driving trucks for long-haul mail conveyance for the first time.
Customised Peterbilt trucks operated by San Diego-based tech startup TuSimple made five round trips between distribution centres in Phoenix, Arizona, and Dallas, Texas, kicking off a two-week pilot programme.
According to the press release from TuSimple, the truck will have a safety engineer and driver on board to monitor vehicle performance.
Long-haul routes between Texas and Arizona were chosen because of strong customer demand and because the lengthy journeys—22 hours, in this case—usually require driving teams of two that operate overnight, making them hard to recruit for.
Self-driving trucks could save money by getting around labour laws in the US, including hours-of-service rules that limit how long human drivers can stay behind the wheel, with or without rest breaks.
“When the vehicle can operate truly driverless, it will be much more efficient,” said Chuck Price, CPO at TuSimple. “We think we complete a coast-to-coast run in two days, where today it takes five.”