San Diego-based startup TuSimple said its self-driving trucks will begin hauling mail between USPS facilities in Phoenix and Dallas to see how the nascent technology might improve delivery times and costs. A safety driver will sit behind the wheel to intervene if necessary and an engineer will ride in the passenger seat. If successful, it would mark an achievement for the autonomous driving industry and a possible solution to the driver shortage and regulatory constraints faced by freight haulers across the country. The pilot program involves five round trips, each totaling more than 2,100 miles (3,380 km) or around 45 hours of driving. It is unclear whether self-driving mail delivery will continue after the two-week pilot.
A mail carrier for the United States Postal Service makes deliveries at a Florida apartment complex in June 2018. The USPS has partnered with TuSimple to launch a multi-state driverless semi-truck test program on Tuesday. It doesn't involve home deliveries. A mail carrier for the United States Postal Service makes deliveries at a Florida apartment complex in June 2018. The USPS has partnered with TuSimple to launch a multi-state driverless semi-truck test program on Tuesday.
Waymo pioneered self-driving cars; now it's playing catch-up on self-driving trucks. Or is it already in the lead there, too? The self-driving car company, formerly part of Google and now owned by Google's parent company, Alphabet, announced Friday that it will start testing self-driving semitrucks on Atlanta highways next week. The big rigs, made by Peterbilt, will carry cargo bound for Google's data centers, the company said in a blog post. A human driver will be behind the wheel even as the car's software pilots it.
Embark co-founders Alex Rodrigues, left, and Brandon Moak with their fleet of autonomous semi-trucks at the startup's operations center in Ontario, California. Ask Embark Trucks CEO Alex Rodrigues how his small autonomous tech startup can compete with giants in the space like Alphabet Inc.'s Waymo or Uber and the confident 22-year-old is ready with an answer. "We're able to move really fast," he told Forbes aboard the cab of one of Embark's sensor-laden Peterbilt semi-trucks as it barreled down the I-10 on a sunny morning, hauling a commercial load from Ontario, California, to Phoenix. As required by law a safety driver's hands are on the wheel, but the big rig is driving itself down the busy highway. "Waymo may have the conglomerate advantage' of build once, use many times," he said, because its new robot truck program has the same tech that goes into its self-driving minivans.
While the growing use of self-driving cars continues to grab headlines, autonomous trucks are much more quietly emerging as resources that could become increasingly important for companies in a variety of sectors that rely on the vehicles for shipping. Android or iOS is one of the biggest decisions you'll make for your company, especially regarding security. Among the factors that might fuel growth of self-driving trucks is the challenge of finding experienced drivers. "The trucking industry in general is very concerned about finding drivers," said Raj Rajkumar, a fellow at IEEE, a technical professional organization dedicated to advancing technology. "Driving long-haul trucks all day long, spending days and weeks away from family, is not for all, Rajkumar said.