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].

Seeing Around Corners

Jason Eichenholz, Co-Founder & CTO, Luminar joined Grayson Brulte on The Road To Autonomy Podcast to discuss optoelectronics, lasers and seeing around corners.

The conversation begins with Jason telling the story of how he first became interested in imaging systems and optoelectronics during a physics demonstration he witnessed in high school.

I vividly remember the day that I saw that laser beam going across. And I was like OK, I want to do this and learn everything I can about lasers and optics and imaging and the things we could do. I thought there were all sorts of applications. Little did I know that [this event] would shape the direction of my career, that I would be using lasers to make autonomous vehicles safely operate on highways.

– Jason Eichenholz

Fast forward from high school to a career and Jason is following his lifelong passion by commercializing optics and photonics as Co-Founder & CTO of Luminar.

From Day 1, we wanted the technology to be deployable, scalable, and we never sacrificed on the technology-based upon what was available. We made the technology work to enable the application.

– Jason Eichenholz

Luminar has a commercial partnership with Volvo where Luminar LiDAR will be standard on Volvo’s to be announced all-new electric SUV and an upcoming autonomous driving subscription called Ride Pilot. This partnership validates Luminar’s technology and looks to usher in the future of transportation.

I look at the automotive industry and I look at the ability to bring technology and innovation forward. The overall industry is going through a transformation. I think it is the single largest transformation to transportation since the Model T.

– Jason Eichenholz

At CES 2022, Luminar demonstrated its Proactive Safety system to great success. The system was able to detect a safety dummy crossing the road and came to a complete stop. In the other lane, a vehicle that was not equipped with the Proactive Safety system ran over the safety dummy. Grayson and Jason go on to discuss the system as to how it was able to detect the safety dummy.

Proactive Safety is about preventing accidents, not mitigating or minimizing them. It’s about preventing them.

– Jason Eichenholz

For the last 25 years, Jason has served as a volunteer firefighter in Orange County, Florida. During his service, he has seen sights and heard sounds that stop and make you realize how truly dangerous the roads of America can be at any time of the day. Continuing the safety conversation, Jason discusses the safety benefits of LiDAR and how Luminar tests for edge cases in all conditions.

Wrapping up the conversation, Jason shares a personal story about why autonomous vehicles are so important for society and what he is doing to enable the future of autonomy.

Follow The Road To Autonomy on Apple Podcasts

Recorded on Tuesday, January 11, 2021.

Narratives Shape Reality

Finch Fulton, Vice President of Policy and Strategy, Locomation joined Grayson Brulte on The Road To Autonomy Podcast to discuss the current state of autonomous trucking policy and why narratives shape reality.

The conversation begins with Finch sharing his outlook for 2022 and what he is expecting to see in the autonomous trucking industry. The potential impact of the April 2021 Executive Order Establishing the White House Task Force on Worker Organizing and Empowerment on autonomous trucking.

With rising inflation, labor politics, and a lack of truck drivers, Grayson and Finch discuss how autonomous trucking can shore up the supply chain and lower the costs of goods delivered to consumers. From an investment standpoint, investors in the public markets are starting to look at the autonomous trucking industry as an investment opportunity due to the technology’s ability to shore up the supply chain and its environmental benefits.

The transportation sector as a whole represents 28% of total greenhouse gas emissions, and heavy-duty trucks account for 23% of that.

– Finch Fulton

Locomation’s ARC (Autonomous Relay Convoy) technology will allow its customers to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 22%. This reduction in greenhouse gases will have a positive environmental impact. The environmental benefits and the shoring up of the supply chain are two of the major benefits of autonomous trucking.

When U.S. Labor Secretary Walsh was Mayor of Boston he fully embraced autonomous vehicles when he signed an executive order in 2016 welcoming autonomous vehicles to Boston. Over the last six years, has his stance on autonomy changed. Grayson and Finch discuss Secretary Walsh’s changing approach to autonomy and the impact these changing views might have on the autonomous trucking industry.

The reality of what [truck drivers] face today is different than what the perceptions are. So we really have a lot to do to inform and educate [truck drivers] on what this technology can do to make their jobs better.

– Finch Fulton

To start this process, the industry has to build trust. The trust has to be built with truck drivers, politicians, regulators, and the public. Grayson floats the idea of the industry partnering with Disney to create a new Pixar movie about autonomous trucks that could help develop public trust in the technology. Finch fills in the storyline with real-world data.

Wrapping up the conversation, Grayson and Finch discuss the positive economic impact that autonomous trucking will have on the U.S. economy.

[The United States] lets innovators innovate and we do not start with no.

– Finch Fulton

Follow The Road To Autonomy on Apple Podcasts

Recorded on Monday, January 3, 2021.

Doubling Down on Innovation

Dustin Koehl, Senior Vice President Of Sales, U.S. Xpress joined Grayson Brulte on The Road To Autonomy Podcast to discuss why U.S. Xpress is doubling down on innovation and what the future of the trucking industry looks like in the coming years.

The conversation begins with Dustin sharing an overview of U.S. Xpress and why the company is constantly doubling down on innovation. From Variant which is reengineering the truck diver experience for the better to autonomous trucking which will shore up the chain, U.S. Xpress is constantly focused on the future of trucking.

With a pending truck driver shortage of over 80,000 drivers, the trucking industry will change dramatically over the next 5 to 10 years. One of the major changes that will affect the industry is the focus on sustainability and what the industry will do to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Our trucks travel over 600 million miles a year and over 1.2 million deliveries are made per year. It’s a great opportunity to be good stewards of our environment.

– Dustin Koehl

U.S. Xpress’ commitment to sustainability extends to the local community as the company gives back by rolling up its sleeves and participating in the Chattanooga Preparatory School mentor program. The Chatt Prep mentor program could eventually pave the way for students to enter the trucking industry.

The trucking industry is currently in a phase of optimization to improve performance and dwell time.

With a driver, they have a fourteen-hour day or an eleven-hour clock that they drive. Well, the industry average is about six and half hours is really all they drive each day.

– Dustin Koehl

A large part of the discrepancy in time on and driving is due to parking and congestion. With parking being a major issue for trucking, Grayson and Dustin go on to discuss the issue and what can be done to solve the issue and increase hours driven each day by a truck driver.

Putting the pieces together, Grayson asks Dustin how the company is preparing for the future of autonomous trucking.

U.S. Xpress became one of the first fleets if not the first fleet to say let’s be at the tip of the spear here. We have really pressed in from a regulatory space, we have pressed in from an operational playbook.

– Dustin Koehl

Expanding the conversation, Grayson and Dustin talk about how the industry at large is preparing for the future of autonomous trucking.

States are also preparing to welcome autonomous trucking, but California is not allowing the technology to operate on public roads in the State. Brulte & Company and U.S. Xpress are both founding members of the California Alliance for Freight Innovation which is working to foster innovation and advancement in freight transportation.

While the autonomous trucking technology is being developed in California, it is being deployed in Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and Florida. California is missing a large positive economic impact by not embracing autonomous trucking deployments as the State acts merely as Texas’ R&D lab as companies are actively deploying autonomous trucks in Texas.

Autonomous trucking can spur on $111 billion in aggregate investment across the U.S. economy.

– Dustin Koehl

Wrapping up the conversation, Dustin discusses U.S. Xpress’ 2022 technology investment plans.

Follow The Road To Autonomy on Apple Podcasts

Recorded on Friday, December 17, 2021.

What is Self-Driving?

Russ Mitchell who covers the rapidly changing global auto industry (with special emphasis on California, including Tesla, electric vehicles, and driverless cars) at The Los Angeles Times once again joined Grayson Brulte on The Road To Autonomy Podcast to discuss what is self-driving.

The conversation begins with Grayson posing the question to Russ: are we in an electric vehicle bubble?

Yes, we are in an EV bubble, but that’s part of a greater stock market bubble.

– Russ Mitchell

The conversation evolves into the electric vehicle charging market and if that market is in a bubble. The conclusion is yes. Staying on the economics theme and price performance of companies and markets, Russ discusses Tesla’s current public market valuation.

A large portion of the general public believes that a Tesla is a self-driving car due to the vehicle’s FSD (Full Self-Driving) feature. This feature has created scenarios that are dangerous and have led to crashes as members of the public are overly confident that their Tesla will drive them home safely. While in fact, a Tesla is not a self-driving car (today).

Regulators and politicians are beginning to take notice and ask questions about whether Tesla’s FSD system is a self-driving vehicle or if it’s a Level 2 ADAS (advanced driver-assistance systems) that requires drivers to be fully engaged at all times.

California Senate Transportation Committee Chair, Lena Gonzalez recently sent a letter to the CA DMV questing the CA DMV’s approval in allowing Tesla to operate vehicles with the FSD (Full Self-Driving) feature enabled on public roads in California.

The letter from California State Senator Gonzalez raises the question does the CA DMV even has the legal authority to impose regulations on FSD since it’s technically an ADAS system and not a self-driving vehicle.

As an example, there have been multiple police reports of Teslas with FSD engaged being involved in crashes and nothing happens from a regulatory standpoint. When Pony AI, which is authorized to test autonomous vehicles on public roads in California, got into a crash on October 28, 2021, the company had its testing permit suspended by the CA DMV.

With multiple regulatory bodies vying to regulate autonomous vehicles in California, will passenger AV companies look to follow non-AV businesses by relocating to Texas and Florida? It’s possible, but Russ brings up the point that engineering talent is located in the Bay Area.

Wrapping up the conversation, Grayson and Russ discuss what the AV industry will look like in California over the next 10 years and what consumers can expect in the market.

People shouldn’t assume that any car for sale right now can drive itself because it can’t.

– Russ Mitchell

Follow The Road To Autonomy on Apple Podcasts

Recorded on Thursday, December 16, 2021.

Commercializing Autonomous Vehicles

David Welch, Detroit Bureau Chief, Bloomberg joined Grayson Brulte on The Road To Autonomy Podcast to discuss commercializing autonomous vehicles and the growth of the electric vehicle market in the United States.

The conversation begins with David sharing his thoughts on the current state of the autonomous vehicle industry.

Right now you are kind of seeing a race to get some sort of autonomous business to market.

– David Welch

As autonomous vehicle companies prepare to commercialize their service, Grayson and David discuss the strategic advantages that Cruise has with GM/Honda and Argo AI has with Ford/VW. Cruise and Argo AI have the advantage of having a traditional automaker to help them build and test their AVs for safety requirements.

As a competitor, Waymo does not have the traditional automaker relationship, but it does have Alphabet’s cash. The question is, how long will Alphabet continue to invest in Waymo without seeing a return on capital?

I do not think they have unlimited time and unlimited money to do this anymore. The parent company, Alphabet has basically said that they do not want to forever pump billions of dollars into science projects. [Waymo] has to start earning its way over time.

– David Welch

As AV companies prepare to commercialize their service, Grayson asks David why the industry has an obsession with launching in San Francisco as the City is hostile to the technology. As David explains, it all comes down to the engineering talent that is lives in and around the City.

Cities are a great place to deploy autonomous vehicles if the City is welcoming to the technology and if the infrastructure is properly developed. Sports stadiums will have to update their infrastructure as well to ensure that the fan experience is convenient and frictionless.

Today, fans do not like walking long distances to find an Uber or Lyft and in the future, they will want AVs to pick them up at the front gate without having to walk to a remote lot. The future of passenger autonomy will be defined by convenience and the overall passenger experience.

The adoption and growth of electric vehicles will come down to convenience and how easy it is to charge the vehicle without downloading multiple apps.

I do not think people want 27 apps for charging on their phone.

– David Welch

Is this a problem for Apple to solve? Could fixing the EV charging problem be one of the things that Apple is working on as part of Project Titan? Possibly, but most likely Project Titan will be than just EV charging.

With a shortage of semiconductors and an unstable supply of minerals for electric vehicles, Grayson and David discuss what can be done to shore up the U.S. supply chain for EVs. While the supply chain is a work in progress, there are still questions around how the minerals for electric vehicles are mined and refined.

Wrapping up the conversation, Grayson and David compare and contrast GM’s and Ford’s vision for electric vehicles.

Follow The Road To Autonomy on Apple Podcasts

Recorded on Monday, December 13, 2021.