Grayson Brulte

Grayson Brulte

@gbrulte | @gbrulte

Grayson Brulte is an Innovation Strategist and Co-Founder of Brulte & Company.

Grayson Brulte is an Innovation Strategist and Co-Founder of Brulte & Company. As an innovation strategist and strategic advisor, Grayson builds trusted relationships with organizations, working together with internal teams to prepare clients for what’s next.

From developing strategies for autonomous vehicle programs to helping companies become the go-to resource for technology innovation, Grayson empowers clients with the foresight and intelligence to take on the world’s biggest challenges.

Sharing his insights into what’s next, Grayson hosts The Road To Autonomy Podcast and the SAE International Tomorrow Today Podcast, where he interviews high-caliber guests and leaders across industries, sharing his own unique perspective to deliver one-of-a-kind discussions.

Harnessing his in-depth knowledge of diverse markets, economics, politics, and technology, he and the guests tackle topics from autonomous vehicles and mobility trends to the financial effects of innovative breakthroughs and their impact on society.

Grayson understands the intricate relationship between politics and innovation, expertly navigating between these worlds and facilitating the impactful conversations between the two. Grayson has enabled forward momentum and transformation from a city to a national level.

As a former Co-Chair of the City of Beverly Hills Mayor's Autonomous Vehicle Task Force and member of the city’s Smart City/Technology Committee, he helped Beverly Hills become one of America’s digital capitals chosen by Google.

His perspective, insights, and opinions are utilized and shared by leading organizations and publications throughout the market.

Grayson’s comments and opinions have appeared in numerous publications, including: The Financial Times, Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, Bloomberg, CNN, Forbes, The Hollywood Reporter, and Reuters.

For speaking engagements, editorials and media enquiries please email [email protected].

Ushering in the Era of Autonomous Commerce

Rich Steiner, Head of Policy & Communications, Gatik joined Grayson Brulte on The Road to Autonomy Podcast to discuss how Gatik is ushering in the era of autonomous commerce through policy innovations and partnerships.

The conversation begins with Rich discussing how Gatik approached the mid-term election from a policy perspective.

Gatik’s priorities at the Federal level will remain the same. There is a huge amount of work to be done at the Federal level to continue promoting our agenda and that of the broader AV trucking industry and the benefits that we can provide from an economic, safety, and societal perspective.

– Rich Steiner

On the State level, Gatik was able to successfully demonstrate the benefits of autonomous vehicles in support of SB313 in the Kansas State Legislature. When Governor Kelly signed the bill on May 13, 2002, autonomous vehicles were able to legally operate on public roads in the State. A successful triumph for the entire autonomous vehicle industry.

While the bill in Kansas was a triumph, there is an inconsistent policy approach to autonomous vehicles, as autonomous vehicles cannot legally operate in all 50 States. With Gatik currently operating in Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana and Texas, Grayson asks Rich if a national autonomous vehicle framework is needed at this time to help Gatik scale its operations.

It’s a hugely important piece of the strategy.

– Rich Steiner

While a national autonomous vehicle framework is important, there has not been an overwhelming bipartisan support for a framework to date. The question is, how can we overcome this impasse to ensure that The United States continues to lead on the development and the deployment of autonomous vehicles? It could happen at the ballot box as consumers begin to reap the benefits of lower costs of goods and increased safety on the roadways and vote for politicians that want a national framework that benefits society.

Autonomy will benefit all aspects of society and autonomy will not just be constrained to the United States as Gatik has expanded to Toronto, Ontario, Canada where they have a partnership with Loblaw. Canada was chosen as the first international expansion for Gatik because of the tech ecosystem and talent pool in the province of Ontario.

The common denominator between Gatik’s operations in the United States and Canada are their world-class partnerships with big-box retailers. In the Canada there is Loblaw and in the United States there is Walmart. Both Loblaw and Walmart have experienced the supply chain crunch and the demand by customers to pick up their goods with-in an hour of ordering them online, creating stress on their current inventory systems. Gatik offered the right solution at the right time.

We presented a solution to the retail industry, e-commerce space at a time when they needed that solution and that’s why some of our partnerships came together so quickly.

– Rich Steiner

It’s a solution that is in use today in Arkansas as Gatik operates a fully autonomous 7.1 mile route from a Walmart dark store to a Walmart retail store on a daily basis.

It’s a seamless integrated efficient solution.

– Rich Steiner

Wrapping up the conversation, Rich shares his thoughts on the future of autonomy.

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Recorded on Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Scaling Public Electric Vehicle Charging with Ford

Matt Stover, Director of Charging & Energy Services, North America, Ford Motor Company joined Grayson Brulte on The Road to Autonomy Podcast to discuss Ford’s strategy for public electric vehicle charging.

The conversation begins with Matt discussing the current state of public electric vehicle charging.

When we look at public charging right now, the industry is in its infancy. It’s been around for about 10 years, but the network growth I should say it’s a toddler going to early teen ages.

– Matt Stover

On a global basis less then 7% of vehicles on the road are electric vehicles, so we are still very early in the journey to an all-electric future. With the potential for electric vehicle adoption to grow, the charging infrastructure needs to grow to support the demand for EVs. As new charging infrastructure, it’s vitally important that the charges are up and operating in a fashion similar to a gas-station, to ensure consumer satisfaction with the EV experience.

When you look at charging we’re early in the development of the infrastructure, the way that the infrastructure develops is going to be different than what we think about with gas right now. Right now with gas we have a typical venue for filling up your vehicle at a gas station.

They all kind of look alike, there in similar types of places. Charging is going to be different from that. You are going to have charging on gasoline forecourts for sure. You are going to have charging in parking lots at your local retailer and you are going to have chargers at work.

– Matt Stover

When the EV charging infrastructure is up, running and reliable, range anxiety will begin to dissipate.

Once a customer starts to understand that there is infrastructure out in the market and in their daily life, they can get over the idea of the fear of range anxiety. Because the technology that we are putting into these vehicles is giving them that confidence that the vehicles can go a long distance on a particular charge.

– Matt Stover

One of key locations to deploying EV charging infrastructure are retail locations as consumers spend on average 30 to 60 minutes inside of a big-box retailer. During their time shopping, consumers will be able to charge their vehicles in a frictionless manner.

The thing that we will be really surprised by is where you end up seeing chargers and how you engage with those chargers from a transaction standpoint.

– Matt Stover

As builders develop new master-planned communities and multi-family residences, EV charging infrastructure will be built into the development from the initial planning stages. An example of a new community that was built from the ground-up for electric vehicles is Babcock Ranch in Punta Gorda, FL. While Babcock Ranch was built for EVs, a majority of pre-existing residential infrastructure currently does not support EV charging.

With a growing demand for electric vehicles and one-third of American’s currently living in a rental home in the United States, having access to EV charging at home will become a consumer differentiator. In the future renters could opt for a residence that has EV charging.

When you buy a house, having a charger in the house will be seen as an asset. And when you go rent a property and if there is charging that is there for you, you will perceive that as an asset, therefore pay more for that asset.

– Matt Stover

Since a majority of renters currently do not have access to EV charging at their residence, they have to rely on public charging infrastructure which tends to be unreliable. To address this issue, Ford has introduced the Ford Charge Angels program. Charge Angles actively monitor charger performance, communications, and billing protocols to ensure that chargers in the Ford BlueOval Charging Network are operating properly.

There needs to be an improvement in the reliability of the charging infrastructure.

– Matt Stover

The Ford BlueOval Charging Network is a network of networks.

What we have done is worked with our partners to create access for our Ford customers to the most AC and DC public chargers in North America.

– Matt Stover

In the network there are currently 75,000 EV chargers that allow EV drivers to charge without having to download multiple apps and create new accounts as it all runs through the FordPass app.

Wrapping up the conversation, Matt shares his thoughts on the future of EV charging.

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Recorded on Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Geopolitics of the Electric Vehicle Supply Chain

Henry Sanderson, Author, Volt Rush: The Winners and Losers in the Race to Go Green joined Grayson Brulte on The Road to Autonomy Podcast to discuss the geopolitics of the electric vehicle supply chain and his book.

The conversation begins with Henry discussing why he wrote the book.

I really wanted to capture the idea that the energy transition, the move to clean energy wasn’t as simple as putting up some solar panels or wind turbines or swapping your just swapping car for electric. It actually involves a creation of whole new supply chains and opening people’s eyes to what this means.

– Henry Sanderson

The electric vehicle supply chain is fragile and comprised of geopolitics. When global carmakers first started to prepare for their supply chains for electric vehicles, they were caught flat footed when they entered the world of commodity trading.

In the book, Henry documents a meeting between executives at VW and a group of global cobalt traders where VW demanded a discount because they are VW. There was no discount, no cobalt sold and VW learned a hard lesson, they could no longer dictate pricing.

They thought of batteries and other things as commodities that they as big car makers could just buy and the suppliers would come running to be part of the VW supply chain.

– Henry Sanderson

With the growth of electric vehicles, new suppliers are coming online to meet the global demand. Sony which first commercialized the lithium-ion battery in 1991 could be entering the EV battery space as they look to commercialize their VISION-S EV. In South Korea, LG Chem and SK Innovation continue to invest in producing electric vehicle batteries. Then there is China which for all practical purposes controls the global EV supply chain.

It’s all part of making the world safe for China’s rise and knitting countries together into a sort of China, new China world order.

– Henry Sanderson

In 2013, President Xi of China gave a series of strategic speeches as part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative that were made in locations that possess the rich minerals needed for electric vehicles. As part of those speeches, China announced strategic investments in those countries. While the investments were not specifically targeted at electric vehicles, they indeed had a strategic purpose.

If China takes aggressive action towards Taiwan, the likelihood of the country becoming isolated from global trade is highly likely. Grayson and Henry discuss what the impact would be on China economically and the clean energy supply chain.

It’s amazing when you get into the nuts and bolts of it how integrated China is into the global economy and especially in clean energy where you got 80% of the solar supply chain, 90% of rare earth magnets, 80% of lithium-ion batteries, processing of almost all of these minerals in China.

– Henry Sanderson

When it comes to the EV supply chain, China is operating a strategic advantage. In the private sector, Glencore is operating at a strategic advantage because of their cobalt mines in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. While Glencore has a strategic advantage, the company is not without its own controversies.

The DRC is one of those countries that I think wants to benefit from the energy transition, and when you think of developing countries being victims of climate change, we need to help them, we need to step in.

– Henry Sanderson

In Indonesia runoff from the nickel mines are polluting the ocean and damaging the country’s coral reefs. As negative environmental impacts come to light along along with human rights abuses, consumers will start to demand transparency in the supply chain.

In this whole transition the opportunity for innovation is huge and it’s not beyond our wits as man to solve some of these issues. You are exactly right, consumer pressure as we have seen in cobalt can actually really play a big part.

– Henry Sanderson

While consumers demand transparency, Governments around the world are working on ways to diversify away from China for the EV supply chain. This change is being driven partly by the Inflation Reduction Act in the United States. In the United Kingdom, the country is looking to possibly bring the Cornwall lithium mines online one again. The global trend of diversify away from China will only continue as the electric vehicle industry continues to grow and prosper.

Wrapping up the conversation, Henry shares his opinion on how he sees the global electric vehicle supply chain evolving in the coming years.

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Recorded on Monday, October 17, 2022

Volvo Group: Transforming From a Hardware Business to an As a Service Business

David Hanngren, Investment Director, Volvo Group Venture Capital joined Grayson Brulte on The Road to Autonomy Podcast to discuss how the Volvo Group is transforming from a hardware business to an as a service business, and the role that the venture capital group is playing in Volvo’s transformation.

The conversation begins with David discussing how all of the Volvo Group’s businesses with a $31 billion dollar market cap compliment each other ranging from heavy-duty trucks to construction equipment to buses to heavy-duty engines and marine industrial engines.

We are earning a lot of money which we invest in new technologies.

– David Hanngren

All of the business are business-to-business (B2B) that operate under a CAST (Common Architecture Share Technology) model. Components and technologies amongst the various businesses are shared which allows the Volvo Group to optimize the business as they shift to electrification.

Heavy-Duty trucks account for 60% of Volvo Group’s revenue. As the Volvo Group prepares to move from a 100 year old hardware business to an as a services business, the company sees heavy-duty truck business continuing to grow and gaining market share.

We are moving from hardware to services.

– David Hanngren

With the shift to services and electrification, Volvo has created two new divisions: Volvo Autonomous Solutions and Volvo Energy. The as a services model will carry over to autonomous trucks.

We do not plan to sell an autonomous truck, we will provide a transport service. Both on-road or off-road.

– David Hanngren

The autonomous transport service will be offered for the following applications: mining/quarries, ports/logistics and on-the-road hub-to-hub autonomous trucking. This new service model will allow the company to continue to grow their revenue while they continue to invest in new technologies.

As Volvo Group develops an autonomous transport solution for North America, the company entered into a partnership with Aurora in 2021 to accelerate the plans.

It’s not a traditional situation where an OEM is supplying a truck and Aurora is developing the software, we do this together. We have hundreds of engineers working on the virtual driver and we do it together with Aurora. We want to develop a self-driving transportation service together with them. In the end when it’s ready, Volvo will then offer a transport service to our customers. Together we will make it happen.

– David Hanngren

While Volvo Group is developing an autonomous transport solution with Aurora, it is not an exclusive partnership. More partnerships could be coming as Volvo transforms into services oriented company. The venture capital group will play a key role in this transformation.

We want to be one of the ways to transform Volvo from a product centric company to a service oriented company. We see ourselves as an important piece of the puzzle.

– David Hanngren

Volvo is going to scale their autonomous transport solution by leveraging all of their brands; Volvo, Mack and Renault Trucks in North America, Europe and Asia. Over the last 12 months, 249,000 Class 8 truck orders have been placed and some dealers are sold out for all of 2023. The demand for freight is up, the demand for Class 8 trucks is up. This environment is creating the perfect backdrop for Volvo to launch their autonomous transport solution.

Staying true to their new as a service model, Volvo is currently testing selling Class 8 trucks as equipment as a service. As Volvo introduces more electric heavy-duty electric trucks, these trucks will primarily be sold as a equipment as a service.

In Europe, Volvo has a 42% market share for electric heavy-duty electric trucks. Volvo expects this market share to grow as Amazon will be taking possession of 20 Volvo heavy-duty electric trucks in Germany by the end of the year. The trucks that Amazon will be using in Germany are projected to drive over 621,000 miles a year.

With 36% of Germany’s domestic transport emissions originating from heavy goods vehicles and other commercial vehicles, Volvo’s electric heavy-duty truck business is poised to flourish as the world begins to decarbonize.

In 2030, half of all the products that we sell will be zero emissions. So either electric or fuel-cell technology. In 2040, which is less than 20 years away all of the new sales should be zero emissions. Then we hope by 2050 that the entire running fleet will be zero emissions.

– David Hanngren

Wrapping up the conversation, David discusses the strategic advantages of working with Volvo Group Venture Capital.

We care a lot about the well being of the start-up. Our focus is not on how Volvo can just profit, our focus is on how can we help the start-up.

– David Hanngren

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Recorded on Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Hub-to-Hub Autonomy

Mazen Danaf, Senior Economist, Uber Freight joined Grayson Brulte on The Road to Autonomy Podcast to discuss the current state of surface freight transportation market and Uber Freight’s approach to autonomous trucking starting with a hub-to-hub strategy.

The conversation begins with Mazen discussing how he sees the $1.06 trillion dollar surface freight transportation market evolving over the coming years.

We will continue to have more automation over the coming years.

– Mazen Danaf

While more automation will becoming to the market, sustainability and transparency are also coming to the market as well. Over the past 24 months the spot rates for shipping have been extremely volatile and the contracts have become inefficient.

We need more tools that can adapt to this level of volatility, and we think that tools like Market Access, which is a class model is one of the best tools out there. Shippers know what the current rates are in the market and then they are paying for that based on a cost-plus model.

– Mazen Danaf

Uber Freight which participates in this market generated $2.134 billion in revenue in 2021, and the company is on pace to generate $7.84 billion in 2022. This growth is being driven by technology, expansion into new verticals and market tailwinds.

We are using technology to drive costs lower for everyone. For carriers and for shippers.

– Mazen Danaf

With the trend of reshoring manufacturing back to the United States, Grayson poses the question to Mazen, will there be enough freight capacity to move goods.

It’s a cycle. I would say freight capacity is aways chasing demand and the equilibrium level is so elusive that we can’t get to it, so sometimes we undershoot and sometimes we overshoot.

– Mazen Danaf

At this point, there is enough capacity to handle the trend, but a potential recession in the United States could change the scenario. This is a scenario that Mazen is modeling for to determine what impact on the freight market will be if consumer spending on goods slows down.

If a recession happens, we are expecting a single digit reduction in freight volumes.

– Mazen Danaf

In a recessionary scenario, spending on durable goods will decrease and unemployment will rise. With a truck driver shortage estimated to be 84,000 truck drivers this year and a potential recession, the cost to ship freight could potentially increase due to a lack of capacity. The trend of the driver shortage is forecasted to grow to 160,000 drivers by 2030.

A large amount of truck drivers who are currently driving trucks today are starting to prefer to drive local routes instead of long-haul over-the-road routes, which is further putting strain on the freight market. These market conditions are creating the perfect opportunity for autonomous trucking to fill the void and shore up the demand in the market for long-haul trucking.

Serving the middle-mile is the perfect opportunity for autonomous trucking.

– Mazen Danaf

This is the opportunity that Uber Freight is focused on which Mazen and his co-authors highlighted in their The Future of Self-Driving Technology in Trucking, A road map for evolving freight transportation with autonomous trucks paper. The hub-to-hub model will have economic benefits for customers of the Uber Freight platform in terms of cost savings.

By leveraging their vast amounts of data, Uber Freight is able to work with their autonomous trucking partners to determine the most ideal locations for the transfer hubs. At first these hubs will be located near major freeways, which will increase the utilization and uptime of the trucks.

At the transfer hub, the autonomous trucks will drop the load and the final mile delivery will be done by a professional truck driver, creating efficiencies. With the hub-to-hub model, there is no limit to the amount of freight that can pass through this model, the only restraint is the amount of freight available in the market.

The hub-to-hub model is merely just the starting point to how Uber Freight sees the autonomous trucking model evolving.

We do not think this is the final model. We think of this as a stepping stone and we believe that one day we will be able to achieve end-to-end operations where autonomous trucks will be able to drive from the source facility to the end facility.

– Mazen Danaf

Wrapping up the conversation, Mazen shares his thoughts on the future of Uber Freight.

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Recorded on Monday, October 10, 2022