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UPS Talks Drone Shipment, Self-Driving Trucks and Alternative Fuels

If anyone has a beat on the future of trucking, it’s Mike Britt, director of maintenance and engineering for international operations at UPS, the world’s biggest package delivery service. Britt manages the company’s global truck fleet spread throughout more than 220 nations and areas and assists identify what and how UPS drives. Under Britt’s watch as the shipping giant’s alternative fuel technology czar, Britt has UPS treading the cutting edge of green and autonomous technology, including 7,000 alternative fuel and advanced technology trucks to its worldwide fleet; experimenting with self-governing trucking; and supporting Zipline, a California-based robotics company that’s using drones to deliver vaccines, blood and medical materials to Rwanda. talked to Britt, a 29-year UPS veteran, at the business’s Atlanta headquarters. Q: How viable do you think completely autonomous trucks will be in the future? A: Every one of our Class 8s comes with full crash avoidance. That’s the first step to autonomy. The car needs to understand where it’s at, exactly what it’s doing, and it needs to have the ability to respond. We began years ago with roll or stability control. A big issue is when trucks come off of curves, they go a bit too fast, and if they’re going too fast, they roll over. This technology reads the speed and understands the weight so it’ll begin to apply brakes in various areas. Complete autonomy is something that we’re looking at, however that’s method down the road. The federal regulators have to get included before we can begin to map out any type of deployment. But from a technical viewpoint, we’re method ahead. Full deployment actually would begin with the regulative procedure. That has to go through Congress, so that would be at least an administration or two. How is UPS working with federal companies like NHTSA to help form the standards for totally self-governing automobiles? A: We’…
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