The former Acting Administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has taken a new position with a tech startup that wants to put driverless trucks on the road within the next few years.

On September 30, San Diego headquartered tech company TuSimple announced that one-time FMCSA head Jim Mullen was hired to oversee legal affairs and risk management strategy for the company.

“We are thrilled to welcome Jim to the TuSimple team,” President Cheng Lu said. “His experience leading the FMCSA will prove to be invaluable to our company as we work to introduce [Level] 4 autonomous trucks to the market by 2024. Additionally, Jim brings over 15 years of legal experience in the trucking industry and that wealth of knowledge will support public and private partnerships as TuSimple continues to scale autonomous operations.”

Mullen stepped into the role of Acting Administrator for the FMCSA in the fall of 2019. He left the agency at the end of August, 2020. During his tenure, the FMCSA was able to push through an Hours of Service Final Rule in addition to introducing the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse.

Before starting a consulting firm in 2016, Mullen served as the executive vice president and general counsel for Werner Enterprises.

In July 2020, TuSimple announced the launch of the “world’s first” Autonomous Freight Network (AFN), which they describe as “an ecosystem consisting of autonomous trucks, digital mapped routes, strategically placed terminals.”

TuSimple also announced a new partnership with Navistar International Corporation to “co-develop SAE Level 4 self-driving semi-trucks targeted for production by 2024” in July.

Level 4 automation means that the truck is mostly self-driving but that a human driver can still take control of the vehicle. However, TuSimple also says that they plan to demonstrate “completely driverless operations” by next year.

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