Dec 04 2019

USPS to Use Nvidia’s AI Tech to Process Packages More Efficiently

The U.S. Postal Service is testing sensors and software technology that can read package labels more easily.

The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) said on Nov. 7 that it would average 20.5 million packages per day through the remainder of the year. That adds up to a projected 800 million package deliveries between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.

The USPS is making an investment in new artificial intelligence technology to make the processing of those millions of packages more efficient. Although it will not impact this holiday season’s shipments, the USPS is testing a range of hardware and software solutions from Nvidia to speed up the processing of packages, according to a November statement

Engineering teams from the Postal Service and Nvidia have been collaborating for several months on the project. The teams are still working on the delivery and testing of the system and it is expected to be fully operational by the spring of 2020.

“The president signed the executive order for artificial intelligence back in February of this year,” Anthony Robbins, a vice president at Nvidia, told reporters on a press call, according to FedScoop. “What we see now across the entire federal government is a movement to try and accelerate the development and deployment of artificial intelligence in support of citizen services.”

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The pilot program includes high-performance servers powered by Nvidia Tesla V100 Tensor Core GPUs and deep learning software to train multiple AI algorithms, according to the company. 

The trained models will then be deployed to NVIDIA EGX edge computing systems at close to 200 USPS facilities throughout the country. 

“What they’re doing is improving the ability of the sensors — the cameras — to read the address label on packages, so that they can read it more accurately and more quickly,” Ken Brown, a spokesman for Nvidia, tells FedScoop. “And by doing that, they’re going to improve the efficiency of the overall system.”

The Nvidia-powered systems are being purchased by the Postal Service under a contract with Hewlett Packard Enterprise. Robbins says that Dell will do the same with its part of the contract, according to FedScoop.

The USPS and Nvidia are currently working to develop AI models, using Nvidia software including TensorRT “for high-throughput, low-latency inference optimization; automatic mixed precision in PyTorch to accelerate training while maintaining model accuracy; NGC containers, which are GPU-optimized for streamlining software deployment; and DeepOps tools for optimizing GPU clusters,” according to the November statement.

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