The previous acting head of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has joined TuSimple, the self-driving technology startup that continues to have a busy and productive 2020.
Jim Mullen, who took over the FMCSA as acting administrator last fall before stepping down this summer, has taken a role as TuSimple’s chief legal and risk officer as of Sept. 30. In his new role, Mullen will oversee legal affairs, risk management strategy, and help the autonomous truck company develop its safety approach.
TuSimple already has dozens of Class 8 autonomous tractors hauling freight across the Southwest. The trucks use a combination of cameras, radar and lidar sensors that feed data to an onboard artificial intelligence system that controls the vehicles. The trucks have recorded more than 1 million safe miles with a human in the cab but expect to have truly driverless freight runs by the middle of the decade.
Cheng Lu, the TuSimple president, said he’s thrilled to have Mullen and his experience with the FMCSA join the tech company. It “will prove to be invaluable to our company as we work to introduce Level 4 autonomous trucks to the market by 2024,” Lu said. “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 was the FMCSA chief counsel before serving about 10 months as the administration’s acting head after Raymond Martinez resigned in October 2019. Before working for the federal government, he spent more than 10 years working for Werner Enterprises and ran a transportation consulting firm specializing in cross-border trade.
As deputy administrator when Martinez resigned, Mullen took over the agency’s day-to-day operations that oversees more than 530,000 trucking companies, 12,000 bus and motorcoach operators, and about 4 million commercial drivers. During his time with the FMCSA, Mullen oversaw hours of service reform that went into effect shortly after his departure. He was also part of autonomous commercial vehicle rulemaking, made contributions to the DOT’s AV 3.0 and 4.0, and led the agency through the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mullen has served as a member of the American Trucking Associations’ Executive Committee and Board of Directors. He earned his juris doctor and a degree in economics from the University of Nebraska.
TuSimple called Mullen’s addition to the company its third key hiring of 2020, after Lee White, who was named vice president of strategy, and Conrad Miller, who became senior director of fleet operations.
TuSimple has raised nearly $300 million to build its autonomous infrastructure and includes UPS, the largest for-hire carrier in the U.S., among its investors. It is currently seeking $250 million more in Series E funding.