Senior Citizens regain Mobility with Autonomous Vehicles

Senior citizens will regain their mobility with autonomous vehicles if we plan accordingly and rethink how we design continuing-care retirement communities.

As of 2014, senior citizens counted for one in every seven Americans which is 14.5% of the U.S. population. By 2040 this number is projected to grow to 21.7% of the U.S. population. The U.S. is getting older and we have to prepare for the aging of society by openly discussing land use issues and embracing autonomous forms of transportation.

Due to the natural aging process, senior citizens lose valuable skills such as the ability to drive. This has a negative impact on their quality of life and their overall emotional state of mind. Once they lose the ability to drive they lose their freedom. They can no longer drive to the grocery store, visit a museum or loved ones. They are now dependent on a caregiver for once simple tasks such as mobility and this can be an emotionally difficult pill to swallow.

Sheryl Connelly, Global Consumer Trends and Futuring Manager at Ford views autonomous vehicles “as a way to strategically address an aging population”. Ms. Connelly is both correct and bold in her assessment.

Technology will solve the mobility issue with an aging population through the introduction and the adoption of level 4 autonomous vehicles. When level 4 autonomous vehicles are available on our roads and summoned by a tap on a phone, senior citizens will regain their freedom. Seniors will have the ability to explore life and become independent therefore increasing their overall quality of life.

To get here we need to rethink society and start planning for a future with autonomous vehicles now. With the current high demand for continuing-care retirement communities located in the heart of cities, developers are betting on the present, but they are missing the future.

Developers are creating wonderful condo-like services without a clinical feel however, they are not taking into account the future — autonomous forms of transportation.

Developers construct buildings to last decades, not years. In less than 10 years fully autonomous forms of transportation will become commonplace in society and upon the roads. But what happens to the senior citizen who has lost their mobility and lives in a recently constructed continuing-care retirement community where the developer did not incorporate autonomous forms of transportation into the development?

These seniors would lose out on their ability to fully regain their freedom through the advancements in autonomous forms of transportation as their building would not be equipped to handle autonomous vehicles. “For the first time in history, older people are going to be the lifestyle leaders of a new technology” says Joseph Coughlin, Director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s AgeLab.

Mr. Coughlin is correct and developers of continuing-care retirement communities will have to plan accordingly for a future with autonomous forms of transportation. When designing these communities developers should take into account the vehicle’s impact on the material design and overall functionality of the buildings.

If it is snowing or very hot outside how does the senior enter the vehicle without facing the elements? Were the proper autonomous pick up and drop off zones with conductive charging created prior to building the structure?

If there are no pick up and drop off zones with conductive charging, developers of continuing-care retirement communities will have to plan for the future now by retrofitting their buildings over the next ten years. If developers do not plan for the future, how will autonomous forms of transportation give seniors their mobility once again? We must plan for the future of autonomous forms of transportation today, not in ten years.

When planning for the future of autonomous transportation we should take into account fear of the unknown. The unknown fear of autonomous vehicles for seniors is real as only 35% of drivers age 50+ would be willing to use a driverless car if they could no longer drive safely. 42% are unsure and only 24% would not be willing to use an autonomous vehicle according to a recent survey from The Hartford and MIT AgeLab.

This fear exists because of the unknown. Most senior citizens have never experienced a ride in an autonomous vehicle and / or spoken with an expert in the field to alleviate their fears.

In order to overcome these fears, autonomous vehicle manufacturers and service providers should host autonomous vehicle demo days in cities around the world with high senior populations to slowly introduce the technology and answer their questions.

Through outreach and education, senior citizens will start to overcome their fear of autonomous vehicles and openly embrace the vehicles as a new form of mobility. Seniors will once again have “the ability to decide for themselves where they want to move, when they want to move” says Gill Pratt, CEO of Toyota Research Institute.

Through proper planning by developers and the adoption of autonomous vehicles, senior citizens will once again enjoy their freedom of mobility when they can no longer drive. Now seeing their loved ones or going to the grocery store is just a tap away. Mobility will once again be attainable for millions of senior citizens around the world.

Senior Citizens regain Mobility with Autonomous Vehicles is an article written by Brulte & Company Co-Founder Grayson Brulte.

Image courtesy of Google


The AI Market Will Soon Top $150 Billion

Artificial Intelligence has the potential to improve the quality of life of customers, employers and employees. But first, companies — big and small — need to make AI work for them for the long haul.

Artificial Intelligence will make society smarter, leaner and more efficient. But first, startups and businesses must enable the workforce of the future and pivot business models to incorporate AI.

Mundane tasks such as driving, scheduling and logistics will all be handled by an AI assistant with multiple input points, such as microphones around your house and smartphones. The AI assistant will be the central nervous system of your life and connected smart home.

In the future, when you summon a shared autonomous car from your phone to go out to dinner, your AI assistant will automatically notify the restaurant of your ETA and dietary restrictions. This automation will create business opportunities for forward-thinking entrepreneurs first.

As entrepreneurs think about the future of AI, they have to recognize the need to be platform-agnostic, as AI of the future will work across multiple platforms, utilities and applications. For example, Zoox, which is working toward fully autonomous vehicles, could incorporate restaurant AI input into the Zoox platform if they opened their API to third-party developers.

Opportunities such as autonomous cars are creating a market for robots and AI solutions, and the future is bright. The market is projected to grow to $153 billion by 2020, comprising $83 billion for robotics and $70 billion for AI-based analytics, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

For the market to realize its true potential, we have to get over the skills gap. Today one in three businesses in the U.S. is experiencing difficulty filling positions due the skills gap.

In 2020, Millennials will make up over a third of the global workforce, and they should be welcomed. Twenty-nine percent of Millennials are willing to spend their personal time and money to learn a new skill. These Millennials are driven, intellectually curious and determined to learn new skills, no matter the cost or time investment.

The desire of the Millennials to learn new skills and master them at no cost to a business will start to help the U.S. get over the skills gap but not completely. As incumbent job-holders and industries merge and are replaced with artificial intelligence and robots, there will be resistance to innovation. In response, the key is for businesses is to meet that resistance with open ideas.

Beth Comstock, vice chair of General Electric, recently told the New York Times, “Every company has people who don’t want to change the way things have been done. But often people are looking for an alibi to not try something new.”

If there is resistance, will it come from your employees or from the industry as a whole? If it is from your employees, you should heed the advice of Comstock and embrace an open innovation culture that fosters creativity across multiple disciplines and skills.

Sally-Ann Williams, senior program manager with Google Australia told The Australian newspaper, “The reality of a digitally disrupted workforce means that we are seeing a greater intersection of disciplinary skills than ever before, and not just in cutting-edge areas where we blur the skills of medicine and technology, or art and science.”

Williams adds there’s an “ever-growing overlap” between computer science and the core skills from sectors that include finance, advertising, law and agriculture.

The overlap of skills that Williams describes is the future of innovation. For businesses to be truly innovative, they have to hire individuals with diverse backgrounds that can work as a team, solve big problems and improve the overall quality of life.

And that just happens to be the beauty of Artificial Intelligence. The best AI systems also solve big problems and improve the overall quality of life. Alongside the right workforce, Artificial Intelligence will create tremendous opportunities for entrepreneurs and companies.

The AI Market Will Soon Top $150 Billion 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.


Brands as an Autonomous Vehicle Service

In the future we will subscribe to an autonomous vehicle brand as a service as opposed to owning and garaging an autonomous vehicle.

In the future we will subscribe to a vehicle brand and summon autonomous vehicles on-demand from our smartphones which will arrive in 2 to 3 minutes.

2 to 3 minutes is the “magic pickup time” according to Marc Andreessen. If autonomous vehicles cannot arrive in this time frame, there will be a dramatic drop-off in demand and usage. This drop-off in demand would cause the entire program to be underutilized therefore resulting in a negative domino effect that would impact the entire service.

Wisely recognizing the negative domino effect and industry research, which is projecting that up to 1 out of 10 cars sold in 2030 will be a shared vehicle, traditional car manufacturers are transforming into mobility companies. The goal of the traditional car manufacturers is to model the behavior of how vehicles with drivers are used as a mobility service in a variety of circumstances.

Circumstances such as which are the most common routes in a city? What types of vehicles are used for the service and on which days? What happens when it rains or the sun is out? Are different vehicles used? In January in Southern California is there an uptick in SUV usage when ski season is in full effect in the mountains? Or is it the opposite?

These are just a few of the questions that traditional car manufacturers will have to fully understand in order to properly develop and launch an on-demand autonomous vehicle brand as a service.

To achieve this goal traditional car manufacturers are making strategic investments in transportation network companies to co-develop the future of transportation. In January, General Motors invested $500 million in Lyft while Volkswagen invested $300 million in Gett.

Furthering their bet on autonomous mobility, General Motors purchased Cruise Automation for over a $1 billion in March with the deal closing in May. While General Motors has been aggressively leveraging their balance sheet and deep knowledge of cars to become a leader in autonomous mobility, others have been taking note.

Apple recently invested $1 billion in Chinese ride-hailing service Didi Chuxing. The investment by Apple is two-fold. One, it’s a clear signal that Tim Cook and company are doubling down on China. Two, Apple is indeed working on an autonomous car that could be manufactured and initially launched in China.

Angelo Zino, an equity analyst at S&P Global Market Intelligence summed up the investment as, “We think the investment makes sense as it should help improve Apple’s relationship with the Chinese government amid regulatory concerns.”

Mr. Zino is correct and further states, “We view the connected car space as a major growth opportunity for Apple and this investment could help the company with those initiatives.”

While Mr. Zino highlights the connected car, in my view that is just the tip of the iceberg as Apple currently has $181 billion of cash and investments (April 2016) in reserve overseas. The overseas cash reserve could tapped to fund the development and deployment of an autonomous vehicle service in China.

Furthermore, over 200,000 people die a year as a result of road accidents in China according to the World Health Organization. This number is more than four times the death toll from such accidents published by the Chinese government.

By removing the driver from the car, roads in China will become safer and the rate of fatalities from road accidents will fall as on-demand autonomous vehicles become prevalent on the roads of China.

This makes the investment in Didi Chuxing a shrewd political move. Apple could be viewed in some corners as helping to reduce the number of fatalities from road accidents with the introduction of an on-demand autonomous vehicle brand as a service powered by Didi Chuxing.

While Apple is making strategic investments in China to further their business interests and General Motors purchased an autonomous vehicle startup, other companies are taking a more holistic approach to the future of autonomous vehicles.

Volkswagen through their investment in Gett is working on developing a Porsche chauffeur service in the world’s largest cities. The premise for the Porsche chauffeur service is to model the behavior of how subscribers use the service and gather data on routes through deep learning. When Porsche feels comfortable with the logistics and autonomous hardware, the chauffeurs will be removed and the Porsche chauffeur service will become autonomous.

Klaus Froehlich, BMW AG’s head of development recently told Bloomberg in an interview, “the company that manages to offer driverless ride sharing cheaply and first will dominate this market. It’s a business proposition worth billions in profits that will cost billions to develop.”

Research released by McKinsey & Company in January 2016 projects that shared mobility, connectivity services, feature upgrades and new business models could expand automotive revenue pools by 30% adding up to $1.5 trillion in new revenue for companies.

On-demand autonomous vehicles will reshape global transportation forever and create fortunes for forward-thinking entrepreneurs and billions in new revenue for businesses.

Brands as an Autonomous Vehicle Service is an article written by Brulte & Company Co-Founder Grayson Brulte.


How Renewables Are Driving Energy Evolution

The renewables revolution is forcing the energy industry to evolve. Change brings opportunity, and bold players stand to make significant revenue gains by wading into this new world.

Our reliance on conventional forms of energy is rapidly evolving as countries and companies that have traditionally relied on a single source for revenue are diversifying into new types. Firmly rooted industry players expand their businesses into renewable energy while newcomers are also getting into the game. The changing landscape is clear: The market is evolving to meet end-consumers’ demand.

This shift is good for the established players who have the resources to create the marketplace and define the product offering. And it’s also beneficial for the new arrivals, which can innovate great technology and possibly get acquired by the conventional companies that have defined the market.

Increasing demand is generating great opportunities for bold actors to launch and incubate energy startups inside of their companies. These internal startups will benefit from the parent company’s balance sheet and brand recognition.

GE and Lockheed Martin are cases in point. They’re both leveraging their brand to get into the space with energy startups inside of their corporate structure. GE recently launched Current, which combines data from industrial applications with the Predix industrial internet analytics platform to optimize energy consumption.

Lockheed Martin is following a similar path to GE by combining their energy products and technologies into a single commercial line called Lockheed Martin Energy. The company’s effort will focus on clean, renewable energy sources that will help it meet the Department of Defense’s request for the addition of 3 gigawatts of renewable energy.

While these two major corporations are leading the transformation of the energy industry from a commercial perspective, the relationship with the end-user is also evolving.

Here are three ways how the end-user’s relationship with energy is changing:

1. Smart Grids

As society moves to an always-connected, always-on society, the smart grid will play a critical role in the adoption of energy innovations. Being connected to automated two-way secure network infrastructures, smart grids will save energy, reduce costs and increase the reliability of always-on electricity.

Automated network infrastructures can act as routers and derive energy from multiple renewable sources like solar, ocean and wind depending on the location and climate.

And when commercial or residential end-users are generating more power than they are using, they can sell the excess back to the grid or store it in a battery pack like Nissan’s xStorage system.

2. Renewable Energy

In 2015, 13 percent of electricity in the United States was generated from renewable energy sources. The Energy Information Administration expects total renewables used in the electric power sector to increase by 11.3 percent in 2016 and by 4.4 percent in 2017.

Renewables’ growth demonstrates a bullish sign for the electric-vehicle industry, which will account for 35 percent of global new car sales by 2040. The growth of electric car sales combined with the overall growth of renewable energy is a clear indicator that end-users’ energy consumption habits are changing.

3. Energy Storage

With the development of the smart grid and increasing reliance on renewable sources, energy storage will become a growth market for companies who develop battery technology. End-users will no longer have to rely on natural-gas backup generators to avoid power outages. Instead, they can now install a Tesla Powerpack or other similar storage products, which are infinitely scalable for large enterprise solutions, and connect them to alternative sources like solar panels.

With our energy consumption patterns changing and end-users diversifying into new sources of energy, the opportunities for growth in the energy industry are becoming truly endless.

How Renewables Are Driving Energy Evolution is an article written by Brulte & Company Co-Founder Grayson Brulte that was originally published on GE Reports.


The Future of The Trucking Industry

The future of the trucking industry is a future where trucks operate autonomously with no drivers in the cabin and autonomous truck logistics officers operate, optimize and manage the fleets.

Fully autonomous truck platoons that do not rely on driver intervention to change lanes or join a platoon will revolutionize the trucking industry while improving safety and optimizing the efficiency of the fleet.

Autonomous truck platoons will reduce accidents caused by human error, improve efficiencies on the roadways, lower the costs related to transporting goods and create a new job category — Autonomous Truck Logistics Officers.

Today the largest cost related to transporting goods is labor. The cost of labor accounts for one-third of the total operating costs for each truck in a fleet. As autonomous truck technology advances towards Level 4 autonomy, labor costs will decrease as the role of the truck driver will evolve into an Autonomous Truck Logistics Officer.

An Autonomous Truck Logistics Officer will be an individual with a unique skill set who can remotely manage and optimize a fleet of autonomous trucks in select regions in real-time. The new job of an Autonomous Truck Logistics Officer will assist truck operators in optimizing the business of logistics — the delivery of goods to warehouses.

While the Autonomous Truck Logistics Officer focuses on logistics, the autonomous truck is focused solely driving and safety. An autonomous truck has a reaction time of just one tenth of a second, compared to a driver with a reaction time of 1.4 seconds. This lightning fast reaction time allows for trucks to platoon as close as 50 feet compared to the recommended 150 feet with a driver.

When the trucks are platooned together there is an increased fuel efficiency which can be as efficient as 10% and increase of 50% space on the roadway which will lead to increased efficiency in terms of time spent traveling on a roadway.

In 2014, trucks (single-unit 2-axle 6-tire or more) traveled 109,301,000,000 miles in the U.S. with the average age of a truck being 11.4 years old.

As trucks that are in use today age and technology advances, the trucking industry can start to prepare for the great migration to autonomous trucks which will take place between 2020 and 2025.

The great migration will happen between 2020 and 2025 as the technology will have advanced far enough to the point where having a human driver behind the wheel is no longer the safest option.

Regulations on both State and Federal levels will have caught up to the technology and Level 4 autonomous trucks will be operating on public roadways.

While we are still a few years away from 2020, companies that own and operate large fleets of trucks can start the transition to semi-autonomous trucks with Daimler’s Freightliner which is approved to operate on public roadways or by waiting for OTTO to begin selling their unique self-driving kit for trucks.

The Future of The Trucking Industry is an article written by Brulte & Company Co-Founder Grayson Brulte.