A no-brainer stimulus idea: Electrify USPS mail trucks


Electric vehicles for the US Postal Service would reduce noise, air, and carbon pollution in every community.

With the US trapped in a historic lockdown, everyone agrees that enormous federal spending is necessary to keep the economy going over the next year and beyond — and everyone has their own ideas about how, exactly, that federal spending should be targeted. A whole genre of essays and white papers devoted to clever stimulus plans has developed almost overnight.

I’ve contributed to that genre: Go here for my ideal recovery/stimulus plan, here for what I think Democrats’ bottom-line demands should be in stimulus negotiations, here for my take on the wisdom of investing in clean energy, and here for why devoting stimulus money to fossil fuels is short-sighted.

Now I want to offer a much more modest idea — a fun idea, even. It’s a win-win-win proposal that would be worth doing even if the economy were at full employment, but a total no-brainer in an economy that needs a kickstart. The cost would be a tiny rounding error amid the trillions of dollars of stimulus being contemplated, and it would produce outsized social benefits in the form of improved public health, more efficient public services, and lower climate pollution.

I’m talking about electrifying mail trucks.

Continue reading… “A no-brainer stimulus idea: Electrify USPS mail trucks”

USPS eyeing drones for mail, package delivery


The United States Postal Service is considering drones as a new way to deliver mail.

This was disclosed in a request for information (RFI) from September, describing why it is examining this concept and how it might potentially work to help people and companies with their mail-related needs, according to Nextgov.

“The Postal Service recognizes that the ability of [unmanned aircraft systems] to supplement mail delivery and information collection can substantially benefit the country and further the development of other autonomous systems,” said Postal Service officials.

If the USPS mail-by-drones idea becomes a reality, it would be a pioneering plan of action. But, the agency is still reportedly very much in the research and analysis stages of looking at this concept. Nextgov revealed that the USPS has not yet hired any contractors for drone production and that it might engage multiple companies in an effort to “identify candidates for future solicitation”.

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The USPS test out self-driving trucks for hauling mail


Self-driving truck developer TuSimple is running a two-week pilot project
with the US Postal Service, moving mail between Phoenix and Dallas.

THE UNITED STATES Postal Service has a lot of ways to move the 484.8 million pieces of mail it handles every day. In rural Alaska, postal workers run hovercraft, prop planes, and the occasional parachute. They pilot boats in the Louisiana bayou and snowmobiles in Colorado, Minnesota, Montana, Utah, and Wisconsin. To reach the Havasupai Indian Reservation town of Supai at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, they go by mule train. And now, to carry the mail from Phoenix to Dallas, they’re letting robots do the work.

Starting Tuesday, self-driving trucks built by startup TuSimple will haul trailers full of mail and packages all by themselves. Well, mostly by themselves: The 18-wheelers will have a certified driver and safety engineer aboard, who will handle the driving on surface streets and take control from the robot as needed. The pilot project will last two weeks and include five round trips between the cities’ distribution hubs.

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Turning Mail Trucks Into a Data-Producing Nationwide Sensor Network Could Save the USPS


Turning Postal Trucks into Mobile Sensor Arrays

It may deliver in snow, rain, heat, and gloom of night, but the U.S. Postal Service can’t seem to deliver a net-positive operating budget. Even after drastically cutting personnel last year, the USPS still went $8.5 billion into the red, a budget gap that could lead to insolvency this year. But in an op-ed in Saturday’s NYT, Chief Counsel to the Chairman of the Postal Regulatory Commission Michael Ravnitzky proposed an interesting idea to help the Postal Service get back in the black: turn mail trucks into a data-producing nationwide sensor network.


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