October 2, 2017 (RARC-WP-18-001)

  • Logistics companies, including the U.S. Postal Service, are already researching autonomous vehicles in order to increase driver safety, reduce fuel costs, and improve worker productivity.
  • The OIG identified seven distinct ways the Postal Service could use the technology for last-mile delivery and long-haul transportation.
  • Despite some remaining hurdles to full implementation, now is the time for USPS to begin testing the technology and refining its transportation strategy for the future.

Driverless cars have captured imaginations for decades, but the past few years have seen the technology move from dream toward reality. More formally known as autonomous vehicles, these self-driving cars and trucks have the potential to transform not only personal mobility but transportation and delivery as well. Other logistics companies are already researching ways they can realize the technology’s promise to increase safety, reduce fuel costs, and improve worker productivity.

The OIG has identified ways the Postal Service could use the technology in last-mile delivery and trucking. Applications include autonomous vehicles that assist carriers in delivering mail, a mobile parcel locker that is a complete departure from current delivery methods, and autonomous trucks that handle the transportation of mail on highways.

While none of the suggested use cases could be fully deployed today, it is worthwhile for the Postal Service to research and test the technology now so that USPS can be ready for the transportation network of the future. In fact, the Postal Service has already started to test the technology. The OIG suggests the Postal Service take a step-by-step approach: continuing to test the technology first, gradually automating vehicles where it makes strategic sense, and refining its AV strategy as the technology, market, regulation, and public perception evolve.

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Comments (5)

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  • anon

    Will you then deliver to my address? I live three blocks from the post office, and you don't deliver to my address. Regular neighborhood, no safety problems etc. Last mile? You won't go across the street. You have no honor not delivering the mail. Combat veteran says you have No Honor.

    Oct 17, 2017
  • anon

    [Will you then deliver to my address? I live three blocks from the post office, and you don't deliver to my address. Regular neighborhood, no safety problems etc. Last mile? You won't go across the street. You have no honor not delivering the mail. Combat veteran says you have No Honor.] Steve, Through the miracle of automation now USPS automatically will not deliver to your address. And without honor.

    Oct 26, 2017
  • anon

    You don't deliver to my address now. If you get autonomous vehicles, will you then deliver to my address? You don't deliver to my address, you don't resolve the problem. What is left for a law abiding combat veteran who can't get his mail?

    Oct 17, 2017
  • anon

    when will they be sale off post jeep or post truck in the state call indiana

    Oct 11, 2017
  • anon

    USPS need's to refine the current technology we use today. It is far from 100% correct & or accurate. Going from showing missed msp's when it scan's & beeps. Scanner battery longevity life. Better working Amazon directions or their scanner gps directions. Before they try to use antiniomous vehicles for everyday last mile delivery or assisting carriers. When you hit 911 emergency if mgt isn't logged into the system, nobody know's about it. Fix this issue before trying to take job's from carrier's & driver's PLEASE. Get the current tehcnology, DOIS, RIM'S etc accurate before advancing.

    Oct 02, 2017

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Contributors

  • Jessica Raines, Jake Thomases, and Paola Piscioneri contributed to this report.

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