The Opportunities & Challenges of the Autonomous Vehicle Industry: Infrastructure

The recent death of a driver operating a semi-autonomous vehicle garnered widespread traditional and social media attention, and sent some worrisome shockwaves through the businesses and organizations serving this market niche. Factually, the Autonomous Vehicle industry is faced with both phenomenal opportunities and critical challenges.

The Opportunities

The market for partially and fully autonomous vehicles is projected to be worth $42 billion by 2025 and growing to nearly $77 billion in 2035 according to the Boston Consulting Group. With the growth of the market there will be opportunities and challenges for everyone with a vested interest in the future.

Autonomous vehicles will have an impact on every aspect of society, not just transportation. Our infrastructure will have to be upgraded as 65% of the roads in the U.S. are in poor condition. In California, which is the leader in autonomous vehicle technology, 68% of the roads are in poor condition.

This has provided opportunities for entrepreneurs such as Magic Johnson, who recently raised $1.3 billion for his JLC Loop Capital Partners infrastructure fund. As the U.S. Government is expected to invest $7 – $12 trillion in America’s infrastructure over the next 10 years, JLC Loop Capital Partners will be in a great position to bid on the RFPs and secure federal infrastructure contracts.

By 2020, you are likely to see the following developments as the Autonomous Vehicle market come to fruition as it relates to infrastructure:

    • Autonomous vehicle drop-off and pickup zones will start to become commonplace in cities across the United States.
    • The way in which we develop buildings will change as developers will begin to incorporate autonomous vehicles into the design and overall functionality of buildings.
    • Cities will start to deploy vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) technology for city owned and operate fleet vehicles.
    • Traffic signals and road sensors will be connected to secure networks owned and operated by the municipality to ensure smooth traffic flows as traditional cars and autonomous vehicles co-mingle on public roads.

The Challenges

For companies manufacturing autonomous vehicles, poor road conditions in the U.S. pose a challenge, as they have to develop cars that can operate in less than ideal conditions and are not depend on infrastructure.

Today, autonomous vehicles need to clearly see lane markings. In the future these vehicles will not have to see lane markings, as scientists at the MIT Lincoln Laboratory have developed a ground-penetrating radar system that achieves centimeter-level localization without the need of lane markings. This innovative system will allow manufacturers of autonomous vehicles to partially overcome the challenge of poor road conditions.

One of the less-visible, but not less critical challenges is crisis prevention and response. Crises will happen. Accidents. Serious business interruptions. Threats to reputation. Product defects and/or recalls. Failure of a crumbling infrastructure.

While some aspects of crisis prevention are technical and due to infrastructure, others involve vulnerability assessment and creation of a crisis management plan that incorporates both operational and communications response to crises.

Co-author and crisis management expert Jonathan Bernstein has found that 95% of the crises to which he has helped organizations respond were completely preventable if proper systems and plans had been in place.

As the infrastructure in the U.S. is upgraded and both partially and fully autonomous vehicles are deployed on public roads, it will be important for both autonomous vehicle manufacturers and Cities to have crisis management plans in place.

The future is bright for Autonomous Vehicle industry, but only if the industry properly understands the opportunities & challenges posed by the current infrastructure.

The Opportunities & Challenges of the Autonomous Vehicle Industry: Infrastructure is an article written by Brulte & Company Co-Founder and Co-Chair of the City of Beverly Hills Mayor’s Autonomous Vehicle Task Force Grayson Brulte and Jonathan Bernstein, President of Bernstein Crisis Management.

Jonathan has more than 30 years of experience in all aspects of crisis management — vulnerability assessment, planning, training and response.


Designing Stadiums for an Autonomous Future

Currently there are 58 stadiums and arenas around the world under construction. Not one of these stadiums or arenas has been designed for the future of transportation: shared on-demand autonomous vehicles.

One of the newest stadiums, the Minnesota Vikings’ new $1.1 billion U.S. Bank Stadium incorporates 1,300 Wi-Fi hotspots and a distributed antenna system—and not one autonomous vehicle drop-off and pickup zone. As of 2014, the median age of an NFL stadium that was replaced was 31 years. While the U.S. Bank Stadium was designed to last for 30+ years, the fan experience will decline rapidly and the stadium will become obsolete in less than five years due to the fact that autonomous vehicles were not included in the master plan. When the U.S. Bank Stadium turns 31, the year will be 2047. Shared autonomous vehicles will be commonplace, and the Minnesota Vikings will have spent millions of dollars retrofitting their stadium of the future for the future.

When the retrofitting begins, the parking lot sizes at the stadium will decrease as autonomous vehicles will not park on site. This newly found space will allow for the Vikings to create new fan experiences at the stadium such as “retro tailgating” and fan experience zones. These new experiences will not only offset the loss in parking revenue, but they will increase the revenue generated per square foot. During the retrofitting period, the team will lose millions of dollars on parking and lost fan experience revenue. This revenue lapse could have been avoided if the stadium was designed for the future of transportation.

Designing for the future is exactly what Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan is doing for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. Prime Minister Abe is following the playbook developed by Prime Minister Eisaku Satō when he served as State Minister in charge of organizing the 1964 Summer Olympics. The 1964 Olympics took place just 19 years after World War II, which was catastrophic for Japan. To show the world Japan’s recovery, Japan Railways Group unveiled the high-speed Shinkansen (bullet train) to the world on October 1, 1964. Nine days later, the 1964 Olympics kicked off in Tokyo.

Fast forward to today and the new Shinkansen is the autonomous vehicle. Continuing the history of Japanese innovation, Prime Minister Abe recently addressed the Annual Meeting of the Science and Technology in Society Forum and stated; “I can tell you that in 2020 Tokyo, self-driving cars will be running around, and you will be able to use them to move about.”

With self-driving cars on the roads of Tokyo taking fans to and from the Olympic stadiums, we will look back in history and identity the 2020 Tokyo Olympics as the tipping point for incorporating autonomous vehicles into the design of stadiums.

Designing Stadiums for an Autonomous Future is an article written by Brulte & Company Co-Founder and Co-Chair of the City of Beverly Hills Mayor’s Autonomous Vehicle Task Force Grayson Brulte that was originally published on RealClearFuture.


An Autonomous Vehicle Could Save Your Life

Having a heart attack or a stroke in a car in the future does not mean near certain death as autonomous vehicles will soon be able to reroute you to a hospital.

In 2015, more than 38,000 people died in motor vehicle accidents according to the National Safety Council. 26% of these accidents lead to deaths that were caused by distracted driving. While the National Safety Council does not break out the number of motor vehicle deaths related to a medical condition, the risk is real.

4,110 heart attacks and strokes occur every single day in the United States, which equals roughly 1.5 million heart attacks and strokes per year. Drivers in the United States on average take 1.1 billion trips in their cars per day, which is four trips per day for every individual in the United States.

For roughly every 733 trips taken, a driver could experience a heart attack or stroke which would endanger their passengers and fellow drivers on the road as they could lose consciousness and control of the vehicle.

Today, this is one of the risks of driving on the road or being a passenger in a car. If a driver were to have a heart attack or a stroke, the chances of them losing consciousness and killing themselves, their passengers, pedestrians or an individual on a bike is very likely.

If the individuals do not parish in the accident and are injured, their necessitating emergency room visits, surgeries, rehabilitation and possible lifelong debilitating injuries could have a negative impact on their quality of life.

Tomorrow, these risks will be greatly reduced due to the introduction and widespread adoption of Level 4 autonomous vehicles. Not only will this risk be reduced, the chances of the passenger who has had a heart attack or stroke of surviving will greatly increase.

In the future autonomous vehicles will be able to sense behaviors such as the movement of passengers in the seats, body temperature or even noticing an increase in respiration.

If a passenger in an autonomous vehicle is feeling chest pain or numbness, they will be able to communicate with the autonomous vehicle through an intelligent voice system by simply saying a simple word or phrase such as “help”.

Through artificial intelligence and deep learning capabilities the autonomous vehicle would understand the problem partly due to the tone of the driver’s voice and could then send a message to the nearest hospital that the vehicle will be dropping off a passenger in distress.

The medical staff at the hospital would be able to track the location of the autonomous vehicle and communicate with the passenger if they are still conscious and coherent. If the passenger is coherent and communicative, they can even be instructed what to do as the autonomous vehicle drives them to the hospital.

Upon the vehicle’s arrival the hospital at a dedicated emergency autonomous vehicle drop-off and pickup zone, medical staff would be there waiting to take care of the passenger.

This is the future. A future with autonomous vehicles will save lives, improve mobility and lower the risk of dying while driving due to a medical emergency.

An Autonomous Vehicle Could Save Your Life is an article written by Brulte & Company Co-Founder and Co-Chair of the City of Beverly Hills Mayor’s Autonomous Vehicle Task Force Grayson Brulte and Dr. Peter D. Weiss, M.D. F.A.C.O.G, Co-Founder of Rodeo Drive Women’s Health Clinic and a former National Health Care Advisor to Senator John McCain’s Presidential Campaign in 2008 and Dr. Ben Carson’s Presidential Campaign in 2016.


Reputation Versus Expectations in the Autonomous Vehicle Industry

The severity of reputation crises is inversely proportional to the expectations stakeholders have about the organization or individual in crisis.

One of many reasons for close integration of crisis preparedness and operational planning is that as soon as you have made any significant operational decision, each impacted stakeholder – internal and external – is poised to have their expectations set. First by you, and thereafter by a growing number of mentions in traditional and social media and even mundane offline word-of-mouth. If something about your product or services fails to meet those expectations, dismay ensues – and the bigger the gap between expectations and reality, the greater the distress.

Ironically, this tenet regarding expectations disproportionately favors those whose reputations are not stellar to begin with.

Take the tobacco industry. Or Big Pharma. No one expects much from them as consumers other than the substances needed to feed tobacco addictions or the pills that can allegedly fix all our woes. No one is surprised or shocked when someone dies from cigarette smoke, even if a remarkably rare lawsuit is filed. Likewise, few are surprised when a medication is belatedly proved to be unsafe, even if they do get angry over it, because of the pre-existing poor reputation of the overall industry with regard to consumer safety.

On the other hand, let’s look at how the public reacted when Lance Armstrong turned out to be a cheat. Or when one of the world’s most reputable accounting firms turned its collective head when some of its partners were enabling the destruction of people’s futures in the infamous Enron case? Armstrong was disgraced and banned from his sport. Arthur Andersen went out of business – in the Court of Public Opinion, not in a Court of Law. In both cases, expectations had been very high – and the amount of anger associated with that type of reality gap invariably results in more protracted and viscerally angry reputation-damaging reaction.

History has provided the autonomous vehicle industry with a footprint of how not to react to a potential crisis. It is important that the industry as a whole understand the trials and tribulations other industries have faced during moments of uncertainty.

Let’s look at what happened when the Wright Brothers were pioneering the art of flying.

On Thursday, September 17, 1908 Orville Wright took Lieutenant Selfridge, a West Point graduate who was one of the army’s most knowledgeable aviation specialists for a flight. After a few minutes, the plane crashed and Lieutenant Selfridge perished in the crash and Orville Wright was seriously injured. Orville’s passenger that day was supposed to have been President Theodore Roosevelt.

This unfortunate accident did not slow down The Wright Brother’s determination. Instead, Wilbur Wright grabbed the bull by the horns and continued to test, build and modify planes.

While The Wright Brothers faced uncertainty after the crash, they did not let an unfortunate accident turn into a crisis that would derail all of their efforts and an entire budding industry. Instead the brothers went on to change history forever.

Hopefully the same thing will happen today. The big disadvantage innovators face today is social media and the spreading of false rumors that can derail a project and lead to a crisis. In 1908 it was never reported that President Theodore Roosevelt was supposed to be the passenger.

In 2016, this bit of news would have been leaked, causing a potential crisis to unfold. This is why it is very important for cutting edge innovators to have a crisis response plan in place, ready to be activated if a major incident is to unfold due to an accident of an autonomous vehicle.

Accidents will happen and innovators will have to be prepared to react not purely from emotion, but from a predefined plan to ensure the incident does not take on a life of it’s own.

Reputation Versus Expectations in the Autonomous Vehicle Industry is an article written by Brulte & Company Co-Founder and Co-Chair of the City of Beverly Hills Mayor’s Autonomous Vehicle Task Force Grayson Brulte and Jonathan Bernstein, President of Bernstein Crisis Management that was originally published on Bernstein Crisis Management.

Jonathan has more than 30 years of experience in all aspects of crisis management — vulnerability assessment, planning, training and response.


Autonomous Trucks, Trains And Ships Will Transform Commerce

Automation can improve the efficiency of the freight and transportation industries, which will be good news for a range of global businesses.

The advent of autonomous forms of transportation — vehicles that can sense and navigate their environment without human input — will usher in the greatest change in society since the Industrial Revolution. Autonomous vehicles will change every aspect of society, including the freight industry that’s already facing a metamorphosis.

Rising diesel prices and a slowing demand for some freight are among the sources of concern for a trucking industry today, according to the Wall Street Journal. But autonomous technologies can unlock significant efficiency and safety improvements in slowing industries like trucking and shipping — and industrial companies and service providers will once again reinvent themselves around these opportunities.

OTTO, a self-driving truck start-up based in San Francisco is working on a self-driving kit for commercial trucks that will allow drivers to sleep during long-haul trips, greatly improving safety and productivity.

Rolls-Royce recently announced an autonomous ship with no crew that will be remotely controlled through an augmented reality logistics command center.

“Autonomous shipping is the future of the maritime industry,” Mikael Makinen, president of Rolls-Royce Marine, said in a white paper about the technology. “As disruptive as the smartphone, the smart ship will revolutionize the landscape of ship design and operations.”

Today, labor accounts for a significant portion of total operating costs for each unit in a fleet. As autonomous technology evolves, industrial companies that rely on trucks or ships to move their goods could increase efficiency by removing the drivers from the trucks.

But what about those driving jobs? What will the role of humans look like in this scenario?

Rüdiger Grube, chairman and CEO of rail operator of Deutsche Bahn describes how “the role of the train driver and the train controller will increasingly merge in the future.” And as these roles merge, a new jobs category will emerge. New jobs will be created for individuals with unique skill sets who can remotely manage and optimize a fleet of autonomous ships, trains, trucks and vehicles in select regions in real-time.

Drivers and operators may be assisted by these new players — let’s call them “autonomous logistics officers” — who will manage the fleets from a remote command center in multiple shifts a day. When these roles merge, the quality of life of a truck driver will improve immensely. For companies that own and operate the fleet of autonomous trucks, they will see increase efficiencies and lower costs as the trucks will now be able to operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The age of driverless freight, especially trains, in the U.S. may not be in the near term. In July, the Federal Railroad Administration conducted a public hearing about a rule it proposed that requires two-man crews.

But soon consumers will be able to subscribe to an autonomous vehicle brand and summon a car when needed. When this technology is first introduced, autonomous logistics officers will manage the fleet to ensure that there are a sufficient number of vehicles in select locations based on demand.

Over time, the role of an autonomous logistics officer will evolve as artificial intelligence combines with deep learning and neural networks. Then industrial companies like freight businesses will once again reinvent themselves.

Autonomous Trucks, Trains and Ships Will Transform Commerce is an article written by Brulte & Company Co-Founder Grayson Brulte that was originally published on General Electric Reports.

Top image: Courtesy of Getty Images.