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每日跟讀#609: Self-driving trucks begin mail delivery test for US Postal Service

自動駕駛科技當道 美國郵政試驗自駕貨車

· 每日跟讀單元 Daily English

每日跟讀#609: Self-driving trucks begin mail delivery test for US Postal Service

The US Postal Service on Tuesday started a two-week test transporting mail across three southwestern states using self-driving trucks, a step forward in the effort to commercialize autonomous vehicle technology for hauling freight.

美國郵政管理局自週二起展開一項為期兩週的測試,使用自動駕駛貨車運送郵件,路程跨越美國西南部的三個州,可說是努力讓自動車科技商業化,用於拖運貨物的重要一步。

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.

總部設於加州聖地牙哥的新創公司TuSimple表示,該公司的自駕貨車將開始行駛於鳳凰城和達拉斯之間,為郵政管理局的據點載運郵件,以測試這項新興科技將可能如何改善運送時間及成本。卡車上將配有一名安全駕駛,坐在方向盤後方,會在必要情況下介入,另一名工程師則會坐在乘客座上。

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.

如果順利的話,這次測試將會是自動駕駛產業的一項里程碑,並且有望解決駕駛員短缺,以及全國貨運業者面對的法規限制。

The pilot program involves five round trips, each totaling more than 3,380km or around 45 hours of driving. It is unclear whether self-driving mail delivery will continue after the two-week pilot. “The work with TuSimple is our first initiative in autonomous long-haul transportation,” USPS spokeswoman Kim Frum said. “We are conducting research and testing as part of our efforts to operate a future class of vehicles which will incorporate new technology.”

這項前導計畫包含五次來回,每一次總距離都超過三千三百八十公里,也就是約四十五小時的駕駛時間。目前仍無法確定自駕車郵件投遞在前導計畫結束後是否還會持續。郵政管理局發言人金佛朗姆表示:「和TuSimple的合作是我們第一次主動嘗試採用自動化的長途運輸工具。」她也說:「我們目前正在持續研究和測試,這是我們致力發展未來物流車輛,將新科技納入其中的努力之一。」

TuSimple and the USPS declined to disclose the cost of the program, but Frum said no tax dollars were used and the agency relies on revenue from sales of postage and other products. TuSimple has raised US$178 million in private financing, including from chipmaker Nvidia Corp and Chinese online media company Sina Corp.

TuSimple和郵政管理局拒絕公開計畫成本的金額,但佛朗姆表示這項計畫並沒有用到納稅人的錢,主要仰賴的是郵資以及銷售其它商品帶來的收入。TuSimple則藉由私人募資籌措到一億七千八百萬美元,融資者包括晶片製造商NVIDIA以及中國的網路媒體公司新浪。

The trucks will travel on major interstates and pass through Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. “This run is really in the sweet spot of how we believe autonomous trucks will be used,” said TuSimple Chief Product Officer Chuck Price. “These long runs are beyond the range of a single human driver, which means today if they do this run they have to figure out how to cover it with multiple drivers in the vehicle.”

自動駕駛貨車將會行駛於主要的州際公路上,穿越亞利桑那州、新墨西哥州,以及德州。TuSimple的產品總監查克‧普萊斯表示:「這段路線真的是我們認為自動卡車可供驅策的甜蜜點。」他指出:「這些長途路程遠遠超過單一一位人類駕駛能掌握的距離,也就是說,如果今天他們要跑這條路線,就得想辦法在車輛內安排多名駕駛來開完全程。」

The goal is to eliminate the need for a driver, freeing shippers and freight-haulers from the constraints of a worsening driver shortage. American Trucking Associations estimates a shortage of as many as 174,500 drivers by 2024, due to an aging workforce and the difficulty of attracting younger drivers. A new safety law requiring truck drivers to electronically log their miles has further constrained how quickly and efficiently fleets can move goods.

計畫目標就是解決駕駛員短缺的問題,從而讓託運公司和貨運業者擺脫這項愈趨惡化的問題造成的種種限制。根據美國貨運協會估計,由於行業勞動力老化,又難以吸引年輕駕駛員加入,短缺人數可能在二○二四年達到十七萬四千五百名。新上路的安全法規要求貨車駕駛員必須電子登錄行駛的里程數,又更加限制車隊運送貨物的速度與效率。

TuSimple’s tie-up with the USPS marks an achievement for the fledgling self-driving truck industry, and follows Swedish company Einride’s entry into freight delivery using driverless electric trucks on a public road, announced last week.

TuSimple跟郵政管理局的結盟,對剛在起步階段的自動駕駛貨車產業而言,可說是一項重大成就,也跟上瑞典公司Einride的步伐,後者上週宣布踏入貨物運輸產業,讓無人駕駛的電動貨車行駛於公路上。

The developments contrast with retrenching efforts by robotaxi companies such as General Motors Co unit Cruise, Uber Technologies Inc and startup Drive.ai, which have stumbled in building self-driving cars that can anticipate and respond to humans and navigate urban areas, an expensive and technologically challenging feat.

這項發展和自動駕駛計程車公司投入資源的日漸緊縮形成對比。包括美國通用汽車旗下的子公司Cruise、優步科技公司,以及新創公司 Drive.ai都在打造自動駕駛車輛的過程中跌跌撞撞,因為他們的自駕車要能夠預期人類行為,並做出反應,還要能在都會區中導航,這項技術不僅昂貴,也相當具有科技上的挑戰性。

Price said self-driving trucks have advantages over passenger cars, including the relative ease of operating on interstates compared with city centers, which reduces mapping requirements and safety challenges involving pedestrians and bicyclists.

普萊斯指出,自駕貨車會比小客車具備更多優勢,包括──跟市中心相比──行駛於州際公路上相對輕鬆,畢竟繪製路線圖的需求降低,面對行人和腳踏車騎士的安全性挑戰也會減少。

Source article: http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/lang/archives/2019/05/26/2003715780/2

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