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TuSimple’s self-driving trucks go postal, on 2-week trial with USPS

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Tusimple’s self-driving trucks go postal, on 2-week trial with usps
The United States Postal Service is using Peterbilts fitted with self-driving technology by TuSimple to make five round-trip mail runs between Phoenix and Dallas over the next two weeks. (Courtesy: TuSIMPLE)

“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”

Most people think that is the official motto of the U.S. Postal Service. It isn’t. It was engraved over the entrance of a New York City Post Office branch in 1914, and it just sort of caught on everywhere.

Actually, the phrase was written by the ancient Greek historian Herodotus, describing the couriers who served the Persian army in a sixth-century war with the Greeks. So with no ancient Greek copyright laws to worry about, after 1,500 years the motto may soon need a reboot: “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night nor bathroom breaks nor meals nor sleep nor Hours of Service …”

On Tuesday, May 22, USPS began a test run using self-driving trucks to transport mail between distribution hubs in Phoenix and Dallas. It is the first of five round-trip runs over a two-week period in a partnership between USPS and autonomous vehicle startup TuSimple.

Founded in 2015 and based in San Diego, TuSimple has been on the leading edge of development of SAE Class 4 commercial truck technology. Having raised $178 million in funding since its inception, in 2018, the company, expanded its Tuscon, Arizona, testing facilities from 6,800 to 50,000 square feet and began and began making commercial deliveries in August for about a dozen customers along the I-10 corridor within the state of Arizona. The company currently has 12 contracted customers and is making three to five delivery trips per day.

After its last round of funding in February, TuSimple announced plans to have 50 vehicles on the road in Arizona in June. The pilot program with the Post Office will mark the company’s first foray into interstate delivery, as well as its first venture into Texas.

The mail deliveries will be done in Class 8 Peterbilts fitted with TuSimple technology, including its eight-camera array, which uses lidar and radar to “see” 1,000 meters in all directions. The route will run a shade over 1,000 miles each way over I-10, I-20 and I-30.

TuSimple will have a safety driver behind the wheel, as well as an engineer in the passenger seat monitoring the autonomous systems.

“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 Dr. Xiaodi Hou, TuSimple’s founder, president and chief technology officer. “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.”

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Volvo Trucks North America’s driver display activation allows remote programming

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Volvo trucks north america’s driver display activation allows remote programming
Volvo's driver display activation allows drivers to update parameters and software without an appointment and can be done at their leisure in less time than a typical break or fill up. (Courtesy: Volvo Trucks North America)

GREENSBORO, N.C. – Volvo Trucks’ remote programming services allow drivers and decision-makers to update parameters and software that enhance the performance of a truck’s engine, transmission and aftertreatment. With the new driver display activation, when parameters or software updates are available, an icon will flash on the instrument cluster screen. At the next planned stop, the driver can activate the update via the truck’s instrument cluster and be back on the road again within minutes.

“With the introduction of Volvo Trucks’ new driver display activation, the process time for software and parameter updates has been improved by an average of 50 percent,” said Ash Makki, Volvo Trucks North America product marketing manager. “Now, from customer initiation to completion, an update can be done in less time than a driver typically takes for a break or fill up.”

This new service means that instead of scheduling an appointment to complete uploads, drivers can completely upgrade the software and parameters on their own, from anywhere, without the need for personal assistance from a Volvo Action Services team member.
However, agent assistance will still be available through Volvo Trucks’ Uptime Center in Greensboro, North Carolina.

“We still have agents who follow the success of each update,” Makki said. “We believe in having real people behind our technology 24/7.”

Software updates are critical to maximize vehicle performance and uptime.

“There’s a direct connection between keeping a truck updated with the latest software and reducing fault codes, in addition to the truck running more efficiently, improving the environmental footprint and reducing operational costs,” said Conal Deedy, Volvo Trucks North America director of commercial telematics solutions.

In addition to system updates, the new driver display activation allows drivers and fleets to change parameters on the truck to alter the vehicle’s performance. Parameters for various applications can be customized and packaged in kits that can set maximum road speed, cruise-speed limit, shift patterns, idle shutdown time, etc. This ensures the truck is optimally configured for the environment in which it is operating.

For instance, a driver or fleet owner with trucks that regularly travel into Ontario, Canada, might want to reconfigure speed settings when leaving the U.S. and reset those parameters when the truck crosses back over the border. And for fleets, all trucks can now be batch-updated at one time using the driver display activation without having to contact the Volvo Trucks’ Uptime Center for each truck in the fleet affected by the update.

The new driver display activation will use a factory-installed telematics gateway, leveraging existing Volvo Trucks technology. No extra hardware is required. Every new Volvo-powered truck will have driver display activation available free of charge for the first two years, bundled with Volvo Trucks’ Remote Diagnostics services.

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Greenlots, Volvo Trucks partner for installation of chargers for LIGHTS project

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charging an electric truck
Greenlots installed two fully operational 50kW DC fast chargers in Fontana, California, and has plans to install an additional 150kW DC fast charger in the next month. (Courtesy: Greenlots)

LOS ANGELES — Greenlots, a member of the Shell Group and a leader in electric vehicle (EV) charging and energy management solutions, has announced the installation of charging infrastructure for a fleet of electrified commercial trucks as part of its ongoing partnership with Volvo Trucks. The heavy-duty fleet charging stations are the first of four installations by Greenlots at warehouses across southern California.

“Heavy-duty fleets have unique charging characteristics and needs,” said Harmeet Singh, chief technology officer at Greenlots. “Greenlots’ SKY platform is built for scale and designed to deliver a charging solution that meets Volvo Trucks’ electric fleet’s unique requirements and is optimized for cost and power. The open standards-based charging approach built into Greenlots’ platform enables Volvo to future-proof its investments in the charging infrastructure.”

On Tuesday, February 11, Volvo hosted an invite-only innovation showcase at TEC Equipment Warehouse based in Fontana, California, to share information about its multi-year Volvo Low Impact Green Heavy Transport Solutions (LIGHTS) project, which aims to transform the way goods are transported. This public-private statewide initiative, comprised of partners including Greenlots, puts billions of cap-and-trade dollars to work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, strengthen the economy and improve public health and the environment, particularly in disadvantaged communities.

“We’re excited to be part of the development of a battery-electric transport eco-system along with our Volvo LIGHTS project partners,” said Peter Voorhoeve, president of Volvo Trucks North America. “This project is unique in the sense of its scope, and that it takes into account the entire system, with the charging infrastructure provided by Greenlots being one of the key components to this transport solution.”

Greenlots installed two fully operational 50kW DC fast chargers at the Fontana site and has plans to install an additional 150kW DC fast charger in the next month. All of the charging equipment for the project is connected to Greenlots’ SKY EV Charging Network Software, which enables seamless management of Volvo’s fleet and charging stations while balancing grid demand. Greenlots’ range of software solutions safely and cost-effectively balances the power demands of electric fleet vehicles, warehouse facilities, and the electric grid. Its software provides fleet owners the lowest total cost of ownership by managing energy usage to prevent high utility bills, while also supplying grid operators with the tools needed to safely integrate EVs and renewables onto the grid. For more information, visit greenlots.com/about/newsroom.

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Transflo adds Surfsight video technology to its platform of freight solutions

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Transflo adds surfsight vehicle video technology to its platform of freight solutions
Surfsight provides real-time video visibility and insight into fleet performance and challenging situations on the road, helping fleets reduce risk and insurance claims while improving safety and productivity. (Courtesy: Transflo)

TAMPA, Florida — Transflo, a mobile, telematics and business process automation provider to the transportation industry, has announced the AI-12 Dual Facing Dashcam solution as part of its Mobile+ ecosystem of digital and telematics solutions for truck fleets and drivers.

Surfsight provides real-time video visibility and insight into fleet performance and challenging situations on the road, helping fleets reduce risk and insurance claims while improving safety and productivity.

Integrated with Transflo’s telematics platform, the cloud-connected Surfsight dashcam uses front-facing and cabin-facing cameras. The camera uses built-in artificial intelligence to detect hazards on the road, and infrared to recognize driver distractions in the vehicle. The driver is automatically alerted.

Surfsight streams from vehicles to secure cloud-based servers, providing fleet managers with continuous access to video. Managers can review video of groups or individual vehicles via a customized, secure, online dashboard using a web browser running on any type of device. Surfsight also provides access to on-demand video retrieval and review on the company’s cloud platform.

Surfsight dashcams cost just $200 and monthly subscriptions start at $25 per month as part of Transflo Bundle+, which extends the capabilities of the Transflo Mobile+ platform.

“Increasingly, video is an important tool for improving safety and operational visibility,” said Doug Schrier, vice president of product and innovation for Transflo. “The Transflo Bundle+ platform is the ideal way to incorporate vehicle video and telematics into your digital workflow.”

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