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].

The Data Will Always Set You Free

Andy Smart, Safety & Technical Standards Specialist joined Grayson Brulte on The Road To Autonomy Podcast to discuss why the data will always set you free when an organization embraces and implements a culture of safety.

The conversation begins with Andy talking about the first time he experienced mobility freedom when he got his first bike at age ten in Scotland. Today, Andy rides a fixed-gear bike without brakes as he wants to be in control and fully aware of his surroundings at all times.

It’s all about the awareness of your surroundings and your connectivity to your environment. You will never be more connected in that sense when you are riding [a fixed-gear bike without brakes] as you have to be tuned in both from an acoustic point of view, visual and acoustic.

– Andy Smart

When Andy is driving a vehicle he uses the same visual and acoustic tactics that he uses while riding a bike. Once on a cross-country drive from Michigan to California with his wife, Andy overtook a truck as he heard the sound of little pieces of rubber hitting the windshield because it was only a matter of time before the truck tire would blow. Potentially avoiding a crash because he was fully aware of his surroundings.

It is all about the feeling.

– Andy Smart

While driving a vehicle or riding a motorcycle or a bike, Andy is always aware of his surroundings.

I am looking through the lens of the driver and also the environment and the connection between the two.

– Andy Smart

Taking a look at the current driving environment, a lot of drivers do not pay attention while driving as they are distracted by their phones. What these drivers fail to realize and what Andy points out very clearly is that a vehicle is a lethal weapon that has to be treated with care and respect.

Building upon Andy’s real-world experiences, Grayson shifts the conversation to autonomous vehicles and how Andy approaches AV safety. One of the most important elements of AV safety is the organization’s commitment to safety.

The whole basis of a safety culture in an organization is above any business objectives. It has to be you are held to a higher level. Business decisions should not be built around safety. Safety decisions are made because of safety, not through business decisions.

– Andy Smart

A holistic approach to safety is what is required to develop a culture of safety. It’s an approach that is built around all aspects of the operation and takes into account both off-vehicle and on-vehicle operations. Without a globally recognized safety standard, Grayson asks Andy how AV safety can be measured.

As engineers, it is our responsibility to go in and look and to say ok who already does this. Let’s benchmark other industries. We are not unique. We are into some groundbreaking stuff here, but hey would you believe that mining has been automating mining trucks for the last 35 years.

Maybe we can learn a bit from them. It’s different but learn, adapt, because as engineers you have to put your hand on your heart and say I did my best and I did everything I could do to find out what was the right way to do it.

– Andy Smart

With the advancements of ADAS (advanced driver-assistance systems) and the growing trend of consumers over-relying on SAE Level 2+ systems, Grayson and Andy discuss who is responsible for a crash and what can be done to improve safety.

The person who is making the decisions is responsible, they have primary responsibility.

– Andy Smart

Wrapping up the conversation, Grayson and Andy discuss how consumers approach safety. Why dealer training for ADAS is important and the role driver monitoring will play in the future of ADAS.

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Recorded on Tuesday, July 13, 2021.

The Growing Autonomous Vehicle Industry in Texas

Thomas Bamonte, Senior Program Manager, Automated Vehicles, North Central Texas Council of Governments joined Grayson Brulte on The Road To Autonomy Podcast to discuss the growing autonomous trucking and autonomous vehicle industries in Texas.

The conversation begins with Tom discussing how he first became interested in autonomous vehicles. In 2006, Tom wrote an article about merging the best of highway transportation and transit through autonomous vehicles.

Little did Tom know at the time, but this article would go on to have a profound effect on his career. After writing the article, Tom started attending conferences and became one of the earliest individuals discussing the positive impact that autonomy will have on society.

Being based in the Dallas Fort Worth Region, Tom has a front-row seat to autonomy as the region is emerging as the home of autonomous trucking. The geographical features of the region are land, land, and more land. With these geographical features, Tom explains why the region has openly embraced autonomous trucking.

We are a large inland port and we have to be extra scrappy because we do not have a river or a seaport, we just have land. We have to be extra innovative and extra supportive of our freight partners.

– Thomas Bamonte

The region is part of the Texas Triangle and the home to DFW (Dallas Fort Worth International Airport) which is a major cargo hub. The airport has a yearly $20 billion economic impact on the North Texas Region. With welcoming State and Regional Governments, a major cargo hub, and freight companies located in the region, the area is well-positioned to fully embrace the future of autonomous trucking.

We are well situated at the apex of the Texas triangle to host freight operations. It’s a great central U.S. location where AV freight can reach basically all of the country within a reasonable amount of time.

– Thomas Bamonte

As the Texas population continues to grow as individuals and families relocate from other States, Grayson asks Tom how the North Central Texas Council of Governments is continuing to drive the economic growth from autonomous vehicle companies relocating to the region.

We are investing in our AV 2.0 program. We’re advancing six automated vehicle deployments and we’re moving from thinking of deployments as individual exercises. We are trying to build a regional AV program that has everything from sidewalk delivery bots. We are investing in what may become the nation’s first automated truck port. That is one of the six projects.

We are signaling through our investments that we are open for business and willing to effectively partner with our private sector AV developer partners.

– Thomas Bamonte

Expanding the conversation to other regions of Texas, Grayson asks Tom about Argo AI’s deployment in Austin and Nuro’s deployment in Houston.

All of the Texas cities are evolving into very diverse AV environments.

– Thomas Bamonte

When Drive AI operated a self-driving passenger service for the public in Frisco and Arlington, Texas in 2018 and 2019, they interacted with the community and did outreach to the local community to encourage future engineers to learn about the technology. The community/school outreach program was a tremendous success with Tom summing it up as a Norman Rockwell moment.

With the AV 2.0 plan, NCTCOG has partnered with Dallas College to stand up and invest in an AV-oriented curriculum with a focus on trucking and autonomy. Additionally, NCTCOG organized the North Texas Center For Mobility Technologies.

We are looking for every opportunity to work with the AV companies to develop the curriculum and engage with the next generation of workers in the transportation and related sectors.

– Thomas Bamonte

Shifting the conversation to autonomy and urban environments, Tom shares his thoughts on what autonomous passenger vehicle and delivery deployments will look like in the future.

I can see delivery expanding from individual items to experiences and a richer sort of interaction, instead of just having stuff dropped off.

– Thomas Bamonte

With the Dallas Cowboys and Texas Rangers being located in the Dallas Forth Worth region, there is a tremendous opportunity for bespoke day-of-game autonomous vehicle experiences.

Wrapping up the conversation, Tom makes the case on why autonomous vehicle and autonomous trucking companies should consider expanding to Texas.

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Recorded on Tuesday, June 22, 2021.

The World Runs on Arm

Robert Day, Director, Autonomous Vehicles, Arm joined Grayson Brulte on The Road To Autonomy Podcast to discuss why the world runs on Arm.

The conversation begins with Robert discussing Arm’s partnership approach and how over 190 billion devices around the world contain Arm-based chips.

It’s really all about the partnership approach. It’s all about working with our silicon partners and giving them the right technology to allow them to address the different markets they want to put their silicon into.

– Robert Day

Focusing on Arm’s partnership approach, Robert discusses how Arm was able to ship a record 7.3 billion Arm-based chips in Q4 2020 as the global markets faced a supply chain crunch.

Our partners like to work with us because we are continuously innovating.

– Robert Day

Shifting the conversation to autonomous vehicles, Grayson asks Robert when and why did Arm first enter the autonomous vehicle industry. Arm has been in the automotive industry for a long time. Building upon this experience, Arm expanded into the autonomous vehicle industry as companies prepare for the mass deployment of autonomous vehicles as they will need great silicon.

As autonomous vehicle companies such as Cruise actively prepare for the commercialization of their service, Grayson asks Robert if custom chip architectures are currently being developed for autonomous vehicles.

Whether people will develop custom silicon to do it, I do not know. As they get closer to deployment, it’s what is available. What is out there? It costs a lot of money to develop a custom chip. If our silicon partners have the right SOCs based on our technology, they will probably just pick those up off the shelves.

There might be certain applications, there might be certain parts of the vehicle that may be doing sensor intelligence where they might want to do some of their own silicon. At the moment you have to get closer to the actual deployment before it will be obvious which way people will go.

– Robert Day

Taking a look at the autonomous vehicle industry as a whole, Robert shares his thoughts on the current state of the autonomous vehicle market. The adoption of autonomous vehicles will come down to trust. Grayson and Robert go on to discuss how brands and experiences and help to develop trust with autonomous vehicles.

When developing relationships and engaging with the autonomous vehicle industry, Arm asks the following:

What do you need in order to make autonomy deployable? Mass deployable.

– Robert Day

Arm has been having these discussions for years as Arm considers autonomous vehicles a growth market.

It really is an industry and a market that we want to make sure that Arm is front and center in.

– Robert Day

As society begins to shift to electric vehicles and the autonomous vehicle industry embraces electrification, Arm is well-positioned as the company specializes in low-power, high-performance chips.

Energy efficiency, thermal efficiency, it will all be really important for deployment. Especially in vehicles that are fit-for-purpose or vehicles that we actually drive as higher levels of autonomy come into them.

– Robert Day

With higher levels of autonomy, safety is paramount. Robert discusses Arm’s commitment to functional safety and why it is mission-critical for the safe deployment of autonomous vehicles.

Putting the entire conversation into context, Grayson asks Robert what role he sees Arm playing in the autonomous vehicle ecosystem as the industry matures.

It’s all about deployability and what’s required for autonomous vehicles to be deployed.

– Robert Day

Wrapping up the conversation, Robert shares the story of how he first became interested in autonomous vehicles. It all started with an episode of Knight Rider. Grayson expands the conversation into the role popular culture will play in the adoption of this technology and why in the future there will be an Elvis autonomous vehicle service in Las Vegas.

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Recorded on Tuesday May 25, 2021.

Simulation First Approach to Autonomy

Qasar Younis, CEO & Co-Founder, and Peter Ludwig, CTO & Co-Founder, Applied Intuition joined Grayson Brulte on The Road To Autonomy Podcast to discuss simulation and why a simulation first approach to autonomy is key to building and scaling autonomous vehicles.

The conversation begins with Qasar talking about what the marketplace looked like when he co-founded Applied Intuition with Peter in 2017. This was the same year that Waymo began testing autonomous minivans in Chandler, Arizona without a safety driver on public roads. Reflecting on this, Peter shares his take on the marketplace.

Generally speaking, there is not really winner take all dynamics in the automotive ecosystem. There is always going to be many companies. There are going to be many players, [with] Waymo being sort of in front in autonomy technology. What is great for Applied is that they are showing the world what is possible and that we are building tools which frankly enable any automotive company to compete at that level.

– Peter Ludwig

Qasar expands upon this to share his perspective on how the autonomous vehicle industry operated in 2016, 2017.

In 2016, 2017 the only pattern was the Waymo pattern. Which is raise tons of money and build everything in house. That’s just not the case anymore. I do not think there a single sophisticated in-house sim team that isn’t also working with somebody in some capacity that is not inside.

– Qasar Younis

Building upon this, Qasar dives into the economics of build versus buy and why it makes economic sense to buy instead of building in-house simulation tools. With technology advancements over the past four and a half years and new powerful chips being introduced, Applied has been able to close the sim to real gap.

You want simulation to be as close as possible to the real-world performance of the system, while still being cost-effective to run.

– Peter Ludwig

As Applied matures as a company, the company has begun to assume a leadership position in the autonomous vehicle industry. Applied has recently published their Best Practices for The Testing and Deployment of Autonomous Vehicles guide that can be downloaded here.

In the guide, Applied summarizes best practices for the testing and development of autonomous vehicles. It is an important guide that can be incorporated into your development workflow today.

Our goal of the company is to move the entire autonomy ecosystem forward.

– Qasar Younis

Taking a step back for a moment, Qasar discusses simulation and references an interview where a Waymo Senior Director of Product Management stated that simulation is roughly responsible for 80 to 85% of their progress.

Fundamentally there are many things that you cannot test safely in the real world that are necessary for ensuring the safe operation of the vehicle. You can model those scenarios in simulation.

– Peter Ludwig

In a 2018 interview with Bloomberg, Peter spoke to Mark Bergen about scenarios. Grayson asks Peter how the team comes up with scenarios to model in simulation. Taking it to a local level, Grayson shares several scenarios and Peter explains how simulation can help to prepare autonomous vehicles for those ODDs (Operational Design Domains).

Shifting the conversation from autonomous vehicles to autonomous trucks, Grayson asks Peter what are the main differences between simulation for autonomous vehicles and autonomous trucks. Peter explains in-depth how there is a large difference in the approach to simulation for trucks due to the fact the way trucks are built and how they are driven.

While there are different forms of simulation, Applied has been solely focused on autonomy since day one.

Fundamentally we think that the autonomous industry will be very, very large. We believe that everything that moves will be autonomous. We want to enable that reality.

– Qasar Younis

Expanding different forms of simulation, Peter explains how Applied’s simulation platform differs from a system designed to generate images for movies and video games.

Wrapping up the conversation, Qasar and Peter discuss why everything that moves will be autonomous.

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Recorded on Thursday, June 17, 2021.

If You Bought It, A Truck Brought It

Robert Brown, Senior Director of External Affairs, TuSimple, Jordan Coleman, General Counsel & Vice President of Policy, Kodiak Robotics, and Jonny Morris, Head of Public Policy & Communications, Embark Trucks joined Grayson Brulte on The Road To Autonomy Podcast to discuss the current state of the autonomous trucking industry.

The conversation begins with Robert Brown sharing his thoughts on the current state of the autonomous trucking industry from a policy perspective.

We are doing quite well as an industry. It is a testament to the core folks that work in this industry. We work very closely at a State and Local level in all of the States that we operate in. We all come from the adage that we do not like to surprise anyone.

– Robert Brown

Expanding upon Robert’s comments, Jordan talks about the efforts that are being made around education and building trust with elected officials and regulators.

Trust is absolutely paramount in this industry. Showing that deep commitment to engagement on a State, Regional and Local level. As well as that deep commitment to building those relationships first.

– Jordan Coleman

Rounding out the conversation about the current state of autonomous trucking, Jonny shares a detailed overview of policy and the regulatory environment.

Even though autonomous trucking is cutting-edge technology, it is an emerging industry. We are not entering into a blank slate from a regulatory environment perspective. There are plenty of requirements, rules, authorities that exist in the trucking industry today.

– Jonny Morris

Putting the regulatory environment into perspective, Grayson asks Robert why Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas are emerging as the leading hubs for the testing and deployment of autonomous trucking.

It has a lot to do with the regulatory environment. All three States now have legislation on the books that allows [autonomous trucking] testing and deployment.

– Robert Brown

In January 2021, Kodiak successfully completed a disengage-free customer delivery from Dallas to Houston, Texas. Grayson asks Jordan how the company prepared for the run from a policy perspective. Jordan explains that before Kodiak started operations in Texas, the company met Governor Abbot’s office, State Legislators in both chambers, the Texas Department of Public Safety, the State Highway Patrol, and regional and local partners.

Shifting the conversation to California, Jonny talks about the importance of the California market for autonomous trucks and what the current state of autonomous trucking policy looks like in California. Robert chimes in about his love of living in San Diego and why autonomous trucking will create new high-paying jobs in California.

Looking at the priorities of the Governor and the California State Legislature, Jonny explains why the autonomous trucking industry is aligned with California’s goals on climate change and emissions.

Automation is something that can be adapted for any drivetrain, whether it’s diesel, natural gas, or electric vehicles. Furthermore what we have seen is that automation can take any drivetrain and make it more efficient because it is a more efficient driver than a human driver.

– Jonny Morris

With the electrification goals of California, Grayson asks Jordan if Class 8 trucks will ever become electric.

It’s absolutely a when, not an if.

– Jordan Coleman

As Jonny and Jordan clearly explained, the autonomous trucking industry is clearly aligned with the goals of California. With California’s unemployment rate currently holding at 8.3%, Robert talks about the positive economic impacts that autonomous trucking will have on the State and the new high-paying jobs that this industry will create.

If California does this, it is a true game changer from an economics perspective.

– Robert Brown

Highlighting the U.S. Department of Transportation VOLPE Macroeconomic Impacts of Automated Driving Systems in Long-Haul Trucking study as an example, Robert explains why autonomous trucking will create new high-paying jobs and have economic benefits on the U.S. economy.

With the industry projected to have a positive economic impact on the U.S. economy the group discusses how the industry interacts with lawmakers and regulators on a federal level. Jonny addresses the misnomers around what the autonomous truck industry does and does not need from a regulatory and legislative standpoint.

[There is a misnomer] that this is the wild west and there are no rules for autonomous trucks. The fact of the matter is that the trucking industry is heavily regulated at the federal level.

– Jonny Morris

Staying on the theme of misnomers, Jonny, Robert, and Jordan all address the workforce issue and clearly explain that if you are a truck driver today, you can retire a truck driver. There is an enormous need for high-quality truck drivers today partly due to the increase in e-commerce.

If you bought it, it’s been on a truck.

– Jordan Coleman

With e-commerce projected to grow another 18% in 2021, Robert and Jordan discuss how autonomous trucking is working to shore up the e-commerce supply chain.

All commerce is becoming e-commerce. It is all being shipped and it is all being shipped via truck. That only underscores the critical need for this technology.

– Jordan Coleman

Another critical need for this technology is for the shipping of fresh fruits and vegetables as The World Bank is projecting the global population to be 9.7 billion by 2050. Jordan, Jonny, and Robert discuss how autonomous trucks can reduce food spoilage and increase access to healthy foods.

Wrapping up the conversation, Jonny, Jordan, and Robert share their thoughts on the positive impact that autonomous trucking will have on society.

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Recorded on Monday, June 14, 2021.