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].

Travel Centers of the Future

John Tully, Vice President of Strategy and Business Development, Pilot Flying J joined Grayson Brulte on The Road to Autonomy Podcast to discuss how Pilot Flying J is developing the travel centers of the future.

The conversation begins with John discussing how Pilot Flying J will continue to prosper as Bloomberg New Energy Finance is projecting that road fuel demand will peak in 2027.

Simply stated, our job is to provide the fuel, the amenities, for our customers where they want it.

– John Tully

Whether its gas, diesel, hydrogen or electric, Pilot Flying J will be providing their customers with the right fuel for their vehicle. For the professional over-the-road drivers, the company provides food, showers, parking and Wi-Fi. Over the next three years, Pilot Flying J will be investing over one billion dollars to upgrade the stores and the amenities offered to drivers and customers.

In addition to upgrading the stores and amenities, Pilot Flying J is upgrading the infrastructure to support electric vehicles and electric heavy-duty trucks. The EV infrastructure is being rolled out across 500 locations with 2,000 charging stalls through a partnership with GM and EVGo.

We are approaching this to try and help answer as a collective, with Pilot as part of that collective the range anxiety question. We are not just doing this where the highest utilization is, we are doing it where we can connect via the corridor urban areas to urban areas.

– John Tully

As part of the rollout of EV charging stations, Pilot Flying J is focused on uptime. They want to ensure that when you show up, the chargers are online, working and convenient.

We are putting in 350kw chargers with two hoses with the idea of being able to provide that premium service for our customers.

– John Tully

For trucks, Pilot has a partnership with the Volvo Group to build a charging network for medium and heavy-duty electric trucks. While the partnerships with GM, EVGo and Volvo Group might seem exclusive, they are are not. The charging infrastructure being installed will be open to all drivers.

What we are trying to do is setup an ecosystem that works for all of our customers.

– John Tully

In addition to leaning into the future with fuels, Pilot Flying J is leaning into the future of autonomous trucks through an investment in Kodiak Robotics. As part of the investment in Kodiak, John joined the board. One of the defining factors of the investment was Kodiak’s culture and how it aligns with the Pilot Flying J culture.

We think that autonomous trucking is solving a real problem that exists. We think that it is something that lives alongside our existing fleet customers and the drivers. Drivers are super core to us. It’s how can we continue to provide and improve what we are doing for our drivers while also looking ahead and seeing where our customers are heading and make sure that we can provide part of those solutions for the autonomous world as well.

– John Tully

Wrapping up the conversation, John shares his insights into Pilot Flying J’s long-term strategy of fueling life’s journeys.

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Recorded on Tuesday December 6, 2022

Destination Electric Vehicle Charging

Mike Doucleff, Senior Vice President & Global Head of eMobility Division, Schneider Electric joined Grayson Brulte on The Road to Autonomy Podcast to discuss destination electric vehicle charging solutions.

The conversation begins with Mike sharing his opinion on the current state of the electric vehicle industry.

We are really starting to enter the S curve of EV adoption.

– Mike Doucleff

In Q3 2022, global passenger electric vehicle sales grew 73% to 2.9 million units. For the entire year, it is estimated by Bloomberg that global EV sales were 10.3 million units. While EV sales are growing, the issue of charger reliability is also growing and it is beginning to create anxiety, which could lead to a decline in new EV sales. To overcome charging anxiety, more destination charging has to come online as it is more convenient and cost effective.

It’s 20% to 50% cheaper to charge when you have a connection to a home or a building then it is in public.

– Mike Doucleff

At the center of destination charging will be energy management solutions. Energy management solutions will become crucial as destination charging comes online at multi-family housing units and commercial buildings.

When you install an EV charger at your home or multiple chargers in your building you need to revisit the entire electrical distribution and energy management, because you are bringing new loads. You are bringing new loads to your home and you are bringing new loads to your building.

– Mike Doucleff

This is where Schneider Electric shines as they are leaning into the future of energy by providing connected energy solutions to their customers. Energy management systems will become the defacto standard in the future as energy demand is growing globally.

The future is going to be integrated with home energy management systems, it’s going to be integrated in buildings with building management systems.

– Mike Doucleff

To prepare for an all-electric future, consumers have to build awareness that electric vehicles are convenient and they do not have to be charged everyday in certain circumstances.

Wrapping up the conversation, Mike shares his thoughts on what the future of destination EV charging will look like as the technology evolves.

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Recorded on Thursday, December 8, 2022

Scaling Electric Vehicle Fleet Charging

Matt Horton, CEO, Voltera joined Grayson Brulte on The Road to Autonomy Podcast to discuss scaling electric vehicle fleet charging.

The conversation begins with Matt discussing a Bloomberg Intelligence report that states there needs to be at least $42 billion in EV charging infrastructure investments by the end of the decade to keep up with the projected electric vehicle adoption.

I think in fact we may even need to deploy more capital and do it more quickly to really meet the demand that we are seeing from customers.

– Matt Horton

In order to succeed in the charging business, you have to have a real estate strategy that has to have the right locations that both consumers and fleet operators want to charge their vehicles. The challenge is not all of these locations have current access to the power needed to charge EVs at scale.

A big part of the challenge ahead of us is fundamentally rewiring the grid to deliver power where it’s going to be needed for transportation uses, not just for commercial, residential, and industrial.

– Matt Horton

This is where Voltera comes into the picture as they are working with utilities, acquiring real estate and developing turnkey sites for commercial EV fleet charging operations. Voltera has deep experience in this model, as the company was spun out of EdgeConneX in 2009. This is the same year that Facebook first built their own data center in Oregon. The significance of this milestone is that the EV fleet charging business will mimic the rollout of corporate data centers for cloud operations built and operated by 3rd parties.

Today large fleet owners want to develop their own charging centers, instead of relying on 3rd parties. This approach is capital intensive and limits fleet operators ability to scale. Comparing and contrasting to data centers, this approach is a pre-cloud approach. When the cloud scaled, start-ups such as Netflix, Uber and Airbnb were able to build businesses and scale without having to own and operate their own data centers, saving them an immense amount of capital.

There really are a lot of important lessons that the charging industry can learn from the digital infrastructure space, from wireless telecom, from data centers, and we want to deploy a lot of that learning and a lot of the approach to really build charging right so that it will be reliable and cost effective.

– Matt Horton

Large EV fleet operators are choosing Voltera to be their charging partner because to do it on your own is time consuming and capital intensive. The risk to Voltera from a capital investment standpoint is limited as charging is a key element for EV fleet operators being able to operate their business.

Today we are not having any problem getting customers to sign up to very long-term contracts, because they are just like we are, they are making a long-term commitment to electrifying the business.

– Matt Horton

In addition to EV fleet operators, Voltera is starting to see interest from Class-8 truck operators as they look to electrify their fleets. To source the energy that will be needed to charge Class-8 trucks, Voltera is developing power procurement strategy. While developing a power procurement strategy, one has to take into account power distribution and timing.

In most places in the country there isn’t a challenge of power production, it’s more a challenge of power distribution and timing.

– Matt Horton

It’s not just EV fleet operators and Class-8 truck operators which are electrifying, it is also autonomous vehicle operators. The value proposition for Voltera is clear, they own and manage the real estate and charging while their customers focus on their core business of transportation.

Wrapping up the conversation, Matt shares his thoughts on how he sees EV charging evolving.

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Recorded on Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Open Autonomy

Paul Newman, Founder, Oxbotica and Andrew Pyne, President & CEO, Wenco International Mining Systems joined Grayson Brulte on The Road to Autonomy Podcast to discuss their partnership and open autonomy.

The conversation begins with Paul discussing the founding of Oxbotica in 2014 and his thoughts on applying autonomy to the mining sector.

The economics made a ton of sense, it’s important, it’s doable technically, the business case is made and if I am honest, it’s an epically awesome industry.

– Paul Newman

In May 2019, Wenco and parent company Hitachi Construction Machinery became the first company to announce support for open autonomy. Wenco made this decision based on feedback from customers as they wanted to continue to use Hitachi excavators, and not be forced to switch to a new closed autonomous stack solution.

Customers really want to have choice and what we are enabling them to do is actually to have that choice. Whether that is to use the Hitachi excavator, the Wenco technology or even some of our competitor technologies.

– Andrew Pyne

The open autonomy approach is allowing Hitachi’s customers to save money and keep control of their operations. The partnership between Wenco and Oxbotica works because it is a relationship that is built on mutual trust and respect. It’s this trust that allows for a maximum amount of flexibility when applying autonomy to mining operations around the world.

It’s been and I am not making a false statement here, the most comfortable collaboration that I have been involved with in my time.

– Andrew Pyne

Paul feels the same way about the relationship. When there is mutual trust and respect between the partners, the customers win and that is exactly what is happening with Wenco and Oxbotica’s customers.

One of our leadership principles is to be a learn it all. It’s the antithesis of a know it all.

– Paul Newman

When open autonomy is applied to mining operations, operators can save millions in terms of the cost of labor which is roughly calculated at $1 million per haul truck. The high-cost of labor is one of the driving factors that is driving the adoption of autonomy in Western Australian mines.

To scale, Wenco and Oxbotica have created a Global Mining Group to define SAE Level 5 autonomy for any ISO 23725 open Drive-by-Wire standard. This standard benefits the industry as it creates an environment where other companies can enter the industry. Wenco views this as a positive as the company takes a long-term view approach to business.

If there is a standard by which you must have an interface to comply, it’s only ever a win. Only ever a win.

– Paul Newman

As the technology is deployed in mines around the world, Wenco is focused on high-value use cases that can scale. Autonomy is resonating with miners because they are innovative and looking for solutions that can allow them to grow their businesses.

Miners are innovative. They are very keen to try and look for new innovations because they are compromised.

– Andrew Pyne

Wrapping up the conversation, Paul and Andrew discuss how they see the relationship between Oxbotica and Wenco growing and evolving over the next decade.

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Recorded on Thursday, November 17, 2022

Nothing Runs Like an Autonomous Deere

Igino Cafiero, CEO & Co-Founder, Bear Flag Robotics joined Grayson Brulte on The Road to Autonomy Podcast to discuss autonomous tractors, the technology’s benefits to farmers and the acquisition of Bear Flag by John Deere.

The conversation begins with Igino discussing what it has been like since John Deere acquired Bear Flag Robotics in August 2021 and what the impact has been to date.

One of the most impactful things has been how we have been able to really just accelerate the technology development that Bear Flag has been working on, and have a means to have this actually have the impact in the world that we have always wanted it to have and that has been possible with Deere.

– Igino Cafiero

Together Bear Flag and Deere are complementing each other as they enable and accelerate autonomous tractor operations.

Deere has made a very significant and bold investment in the Autonomous 8R, which was announced at CES earlier this year. It has had a remarkably successful season in the field this year, and one of the ways that Bear Flag is complementing that is by pointing our efforts towards autonomy in orchards.

– Igino Cafiero

By enabling and accelerating autonomy, farmers will benefit as the economics of the farm will no longer be limited by a growing labor shortage.

There is this massive labor shortage that farmers are facing and it is perhaps most acute in these markets that we are focused on in California for high-value crops. There is this misconception in agriculture that there is this infinite line, sort of workers available on the farm. That just couldn’t be further from the truth. So complementary technologies such as autonomy will continue to help farmers and also drive sales for John Deere.

– Igino Cafiero

Autonomous tractors will make farmers more profitable as they are able to fully utilize the land and optimize their operations. When Igino co-founded Bear Flag he focused on recurring revenue on day one because the company had to demonstrate to investors that the technology would work and that they had a product market fit.

We developed this service go-to-market, where growers would pay for the work that was actually done.

– Igino Cafiero

The recurring revenue model validated to investors that the technology worked and that farmers would pay for the autonomous tractor service. In the early days of Bear Flag, when Igino met with farmers to discuss their technology and operations the conversations were based around the cost efficiency of using autonomous tractors as a service. The model allowed farmers to use their best employees in other areas of the farm while the autonomous tractor focused on tillage.

When it came to determine the best way to price the service, Bear Flag ultimately chose a model that would benefit farmers.

Ultimately what was obvious in hindsight is we just charged per acre. We said, you pay us when you are happy with the job.

– Igino Cafiero

Today as part of Deere, Bear Flag is focusing on building highly reliable autonomous software that will help farmers due their job more efficiently. Deere is going to scale autonomous tractors as John May, CEO of Deere stated the following during analyst meetings with J.P. Morgan in September 2022.

Going forward every John Deere tractor will be autonomous-ready with the necessary computing power.

– John May, CEO of Deere & Company (John Deere)

Bear Flag will play a vital role in Deere’s autonomy strategy as the technology scales and farmers implement autonomous tractors on farms around the world.

Wrapping up the conversation, Igino discusses what he is looking to forward to accomplishing at Deere over the next decade.

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Recorded on Friday November 11, 2022