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Self-driving truck startup to run tests for post office to and from Phoenix

(TuSimple Photo)

PHOENIX – A self-driving truck startup based in Arizona has landed a trial run delivering mail for the U.S. Postal Service between Phoenix and Dallas, Texas.

TuSimple, which has headquarters in Tucson and San Diego, California, will make five round trips during the two-week testing, the company announced Tuesday.

“We are conducting research and testing as part of our efforts to operate a future class of vehicles which will incorporate new technology to accommodate a diverse mail mix, enhance safety, improve service, reduce emissions, and produce operational savings,” the Postal Service said in an email to KTAR News 92.3 FM.

The trucks will roll across 1,000-plus miles of road on Interstate 10, 20 and 30. They’ll go for 22 hours apiece.

Two team members – a driver and a safety engineer – will ride along each long haul.

“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,” Xiaodi Hou, president and chief technology director of TuSimple, said in a press release.

Talks began over a year ago, according to a spokeswoman’s email to KTAR News 92.3 FM.

The company opened the Tucson testing and development facility in 2017 and has sent the trucks on routes in Arizona since then.

A year ago, TuSimple expanded the southern Arizona site from 6,800 square feet to 50,000 square feet and brought in more trucks.

The fleet will grow from 12 trucks to 50 before the end of the year.

The company began operations in 2015 and recently announced it had raised $95 million in funding.

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