Innovation arrives in a $482 million contract for new USPS delivery vehicles. And they're so cute!

The U.S. Postal Service's fleet of delivery vehicles is about to get an update. The newly designed vehicles will be environmentally sustainable and introduce a variety of safety and operational improvements.

USPS awarded a $482 million, 10-year contract to Oshkosh Defense to manufacture a new generation of delivery vehicles, which it said is the most "dramatic modernization" of its fleet in more than 30 years. The Postal Service said the project is part of a forthcoming plan to transform both its customer service and financial performance over the next decade through investments in people, technology, and infrastructure. USPS said its goal is to become the preferred delivery service provider of the American public.

Under the initial phase of the contract, Oshkosh Defense is expected to finalize the production design of the Next Generation Delivery Vehicle (NGDV) and assemble between 50,000 and 165,000 of them over the next 10 years. The planned vehicle will have a right-hand drive to accommodate mail and package delivery and will be equipped with either a fuel-efficient internal combustion engine or battery-electric powertrain that can be retrofitted to keep pace with changes in electric vehicle technology. The initial investment will also include plant tooling and buildout for the U.S.-based manufacturing facility where vehicle assembly will occur.

USPS said the contract is the first part of a multibillion-dollar effort to replace and expand its entire fleet, which currently includes 230,000 vehicles. About 190,000 of those deliver mail six to seven days a week in communities across the country. 

"The NGDV program expands our capacity for handling more package volume and supports our carriers with cleaner and more efficient technologies, more amenities, and greater comfort and security as they deliver every day on behalf of the American people," said Postmaster General and USPS Chief Executive Officer Louis DeJoy.

Among the amenities, the vehicles will have air conditioning and heating, improved ergonomics, 360-degree cameras, advanced braking and traction control, airbags, front and rear collision avoidance systems with visual, audio warning, and automatic braking. The vehicles also will have increased cargo capacity to accommodate higher package volumes that have stemmed from the growth of e-commerce, USPS said.

On social media, many people said the new design looks "adorable" or channels Pixar or Perry the Platypus with its cartoonish proportions.

What do you think of the new mail truck design? Tell us in the comments.