Grayson Brulte

Grayson Brulte

@gbrulte | @gbrulte

Grayson Brulte is an Innovation Strategist, Speaker, Author, Consultant, and Autonomous Vehicle expert.

Grayson is the Co-Founder / President of Brulte & Company, a consulting firm that specializes in designing innovation and technology strategies for a global marketplace. Grayson is also the Co-Founder of Autonomous Tomorrow.

Influential in Beverly Hills, he serves as the Co-Chair of the City of Beverly Hills Mayor's Autonomous Vehicle Task Force. He is also an active member of the city’s Smart City / Technology Committee which advises the Beverly Hills City Council on technology. In 2015, the City of Beverly Hills was chosen by Google as one of America’s digital capitals.

Along with his Beverly Hills guidance, Grayson was appointed a Global Health Economics Fellow at The University of Vermont College of Medicine.

From Autonomous Vehicles to politics, to the future of entertainment and more, Grayson has written articles about innovation, technology, and strategy for Continental’s 2025AD, General Electric Reports, the MIT Sloan Executive Education [email protected] Blog, RealClear Future, Futurism, VentureBeat and The Washington Times among others.

His written opinions and insights have been used by organizations such as the Consumer Electronics Association in presentations to the Federal Trade Commission.

Grayson has spoken in front of numerous audiences, including the FLDOT’s Florida Automated Vehicles Summit, New York International Auto Show, Princeton SmartDrivingCars, Consumer Telematics Show, XII Metropolis World Congress, TU-Automotive Detroit and Autonomous Vehicles Silicon Valley.

His comments have appeared in numerous publications, including The Financial Times, The Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Telegraph, The International Business Times and The Hollywood Reporter.

For speaking engagements, editorials and media enquiries please email [email protected].

The Importance of Autonomous Vehicle Demo Days

The biggest hurdle currently facing the autonomous vehicle industry is fear

Both the fear of the unknown from consumers and the fear of liability. In today’s litigious society, companies are reticent to take risks. When planning for the future of autonomous vehicles, AV manufacturers must take into account the public’s fear of the unknown, while mitigating risk.

The fear of autonomous vehicles is very real due to the fact that a majority of the public has never seen an autonomous vehicle, let alone gone for a ride in one. Yet, a majority of the public has ridden in airport tram — which is driverless — without even batting an eye when boarding those driverless vehicles. We tend to fear what we do not know and do not fully comprehend.

In order to overcome these fears and uncertainties, autonomous vehicle manufacturers should partner with cities around the word to host autonomous vehicle demo days to introduce AVs directly to the public, allowing them to explore AV technology.

A 2016 University of Iowa Technology Demonstration Study points out that 80% of individuals prefer to learn about advanced driver technologies through a method that includes a demonstration. This creates an opportunity for autonomous vehicle manufacturers to partner with cities to host demonstrations.

At the autonomous vehicle demo days, the public should be encouraged to go for rides and ask any and all questions they may have about autonomy and the future of mobility. Autonomous vehicles are a new form of mobility which will make us safer, while greatly improving mobility for seniors and the disabled.

Seniors and the disabled will once again have their freedom back. However, there is a mounting concern that these groups will be unwilling to embrace the new technology. “Whether the growing population of older adults will fully realize the benefits remains a question subject to many moving parts” according to Paul Irving, Chairman of the Milken Institute Center for the Future of Aging.

Mr. Irving is correct. This is why it is crucial to engage the public by inviting them to demo the technology and ask questions.

Furthermore, cities have to actively prepare for a future with autonomous vehicles. When planning for the city of the future, cities have to take small steps now to achieve big goals later.

In Beverly Hills, we are actively engaged with autonomous vehicle startups and traditional car manufacturers on a daily basis. One of the City’s goals is to shut down Rodeo Drive and host an autonomous vehicle demo day, where the public can take part in experiencing the technology and envision a world where autonomous vehicles are the the most common form of transportation.

The public’s experience at the autonomous vehicle demo day will start to alleviate the fear of the unknown. While autonomous vehicle startups have been very open to the idea of demo days, traditional car manufacturers have not been so receptive.

This comes as a disappointment as traditional car manufacturers could use the opportunity to educate the public about the safety benefits of not only autonomous vehicles, but also advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), which are currently available today.

According to Alex Epstein, Senior Director of Digital Strategy & Content at the National Safety Council, “The public does not have much of an awareness or understanding about what is really happening in vehicle automation, particularly safety automation.

There is confusion about some of the great technology that is available in production vehicles right now. For instance, does a particular vehicle have an ADAS feature such as Automatic Emergency Braking that might fully stop a vehicle on its own, or just slow it down to mitigate impact?”

An autonomous vehicle demo day would offer traditional car manufacturers the opportunity to showcase their advanced driver assistance systems while educating and preparing the public for the future.

“Getting a traditional car manufacturer to jump is the million dollar question” according to Jeffrey Spencer, Executive Director of the Sacramento Transportation Authority. Alex Epstein expands, “Right now, the downside is much bigger than the upside for traditional car manufacturers. The fully automated vehicles traditional car manufacturers might show are prototypes. Concept cars out for testing and refinement. Once the automated vehicles are brought to market, the manufacturers will be out showcasing them every chance they get.”

However, the fact that you cannot currently buy an autonomous vehicle or subscribe to an autonomous vehicle service should not stop traditional car manufacturers from preparing for the future and openly engaging with cities and the public. The upside is, in fact, bigger.

Only a handful of traditional car manufacturers will make the leap to becoming a mobility company. To make this leap, the public first and foremost has to like and trust the brand.

Today, the only truly trusted autonomous vehicle brand is Waymo. Why? Waymo is an Alphabet (Google) company and their AVs are the most commonly associated vehicles with autonomy. Plus, Google is the 5th most reputable company in the world (2017) according to the Reputation Institute.

BMW is not far behind as the 12th most reputable company in the world (2017), but ask the general public if they have heard of a self-driving BMW or if they have seen one and the answer will be most likely no. Ask the public if they have heard of an self-driving Google car or if they have seen one, the answer most likely will be yes.

Ask the public who they trust with their safety in an autonomous vehicle, and the answer most likely will be Google. The public uses Google every single day and has grown to like and trust the brand. To get to the point in society where every autonomous vehicle brand is trusted by consumers, we have to eliminate the fear of the unknown.

Through outreach and education, individuals will start to overcome their fear of autonomous vehicles. The time to act is now, it’s time for every single autonomous vehicle manufacturer to partner with cities around the world to host autonomous vehicle demo days.

By overcoming the fear of the unknown (autonomous vehicles), we will usher in the great mobility revolution to the benefit of everyone.

The Importance of Autonomous Vehicle Demo Days is an article written by Brulte & Company Co-Founder Grayson Brulte that was originally published on Autonomous Tomorrow.

Amazon Smart-Home Consultations: Gearing Up For An Autonomous Vehicle Service

Building Trust, To Sell More Products and Autonomous Services

With the introduction of Amazon’s complementary Smart Home Consultation service, Amazon is gearing up to launch an autonomous vehicle service.

Amazon started laying the groundwork for an autonomous vehicle service in August 2016 through a partnership with Hyundai. Individuals were able to order a test drive of a 2017 Hyundai Elantra in Los Angeles under the banner of “Prime Now. Drive Now”.

While the program was a pilot program, Amazon was able to gather data and insight into how how consumers would order vehicles and use the service. Similar to the Smart Home Consultation service, trained experts were available to answer questions.

With Amazon’s complementary Smart Home Consultation, experts come to your home for a personalized experience that typically lasts on average 45 minutes. The experts start by learning more about the things you care about most, which gives Amazon another opportunity to gather data about autonomous vehicles and discuss the topic.

The service is currently available in Seattle, WA, Portland, OR, San Francisco, CA, San Diego, CA, Los Angeles, CA, Orange County, CA and San Jose, CA. All of these cities have autonomous vehicles in common – testing and research about the future of autonomous mobility is happening in each of these cities/geographical areas.

In Beverly Hills, an independent city geographically located in the center of Los Angeles, we are actively looking into how we can plan for a future with autonomous vehicles. Two of the biggest hurdles that we have identified are trust and education. How do you educate someone about future mobility, particularly autonomous vehicles, without trust?

Trust and education will play a vital role in the adoption and implementation of fully autonomous vehicles. We have seen companies working on autonomous vehicles take steps towards building trust by releasing dash-cam videos showing the vehicles driving around public roads in urban environments. While the videos may squash some fears, they end up only furthering the need for public autonomous vehicle demo days in cities around the world.

Jim Cramer, the host of CNBC’s “Mad Money” was a self-professed skeptic of autonomous vehicles until he went for a ride in a Waymo vehicle. After the ride in the semi-autonomous vehicle, Cramer’s entire opinion about autonomous vehicles changed. During the ride, Carmer began to trust the technology more than he trusted a driver.

Summing up his first-ever autonomous vehicle experience, Carmer said; “I thought they were a pipedream, something that wouldn’t be viable until the distant future. Turns out I was wrong, and the future is now.”

He is correct, the future is now and Amazon decidedly knows this as well. Amazon further knows that trust and education are the keys to the adoption and implementation of fully autonomous vehicles. This exact scenario played out with Carmer. Once he learned about the technology first hand and went for a ride, he experienced the future.

While the experience Carmer had at Waymo’s headquarters is not scaleable, Amazon has solved the scale hurdle by introducing the Smart Home Consultation service. The service will allow Amazon to develop trust and educate the consumer about autonomous vehicles.

Amazon is already a trusted brand that virtually everyone universally adores. This affords the company a unique strategic advantage over every single brand in the autonomous vehicle marketplace, except possibly Alphabet’s Waymo.

As quality time is spent in the home, Amazon employees will be able to educate the consumer about autonomous vehicles while speaking about the benefits of autonomous vehicles and strengthening the trust factor.

To further this trust, an employee could even summon an autonomous vehicle using their voice from an Echo. Taking that individual(s) for a ride around the neighborhood and/or to an Amazon GO store. Once the individual sits in the vehicle, trust has already been firmly established.

As the vehicle pulls away and drives itself down the road, the passenger(s) are experiencing the future firsthand while Amazon gains another avenue to sell more products and services.

An autonomous vehicle subscription service is coming from Amazon, it’s just a matter of when.

Amazon Smart-Home Consultations: Gearing Up For An Autonomous Vehicle Service is an article written by Grayson Brulte, Brulte & Company Co-Founder and Co-Chair of the City of Beverly Hills Autonomous Vehicle Task Force.

Autonomous Vehicle Drop-off and Pick-up Zones

With the advancements in artificial intelligence (A.I.), LiDAR sensors and graphics processing units, it is now possible to have a car drive itself in real world urban environments.

As society evolves and drives down the road towards autonomous vehicles, we must take a step back to re-imagine how we plan a city for a future with no parking and no drivers in the vehicle.

To plan for a future with autonomous vehicles, engineers have to imagine a world where vehicles no longer park in public garages, surface lots or in front of a business. Instead, engineers must plan for a future where autonomous vehicle drop-off and pick-up zones replace on-street parking.

Parks, housing and commercial buildings will replace the once former public garages and surface lots. Engineers will be tasked with studying and developing a strategy to re-use garages while keeping the structural integrity of the garage in tack.

Floor leveling will present one of the biggest challenges as engineers will need to think through how to level floors which have a slight incline. “You don’t generally notice it, but if you’re in an office that had a quarter inch slope, your back would hurt pretty bad”, Michael LeBlanc, a principal at architectural firm Utile recently told Wired.

Mr. LeBlanc is correct in his assessment from a health perspective, furthermore the slight incline could pose a structural challenge to the overall integrity of the building. Older buildings with these structural challenges will need to be completely removed.

In the United States in 2012, there were 5.6 million commercial buildings with the average age of these buildings being 41.7 years old. You can imagine most if not all have parking garages. A 2011 study from the University of California-Berkeley identified that there close to 1 billion parking spots in the United States.

When autonomous vehicles become commonplace and parking in these areas is no longer needed, autonomous vehicles will have disrupted a $100 billion industry — worldwide parking.

This abolishment of the parking industry will lead to architects completely re-imagine how they design the houses, buildings and theme parks of the future.

For example, the EPCOT theme park at Walt Disney World currently has parking for 12,000 cars. This parking lot sprawls out over 7 million square feet.

Disney could overhaul the parking lot at EPCOT and replace its current need with autonomous vehicle drop-off and pick-up zones.

This idea would follow Walt Disney’s original vision for an Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow also known as EPCOT. Walt Disney described his vision of EPCOT as follows:

EPCOT will be an experimental prototype community of tomorrow that will take its cue from the new ideas and new technologies that are now emerging from the creative centers of American industry. It will be a community of tomorrow that will never be completed but will always be introducing and testing and demonstrating new materials and systems. And, EPCOT will always be a showcase to the world for the ingenuity and imagination of American free enterprise.

Disney could help usher in the future of transportation by publicly announcing a plan to remove the parking lot at EPCOT. While this plan would be disruptive, it could be phased in over the next 20 years as Disney experiments with the developing the perfect autonomous vehicle drop-off and pick-up zone.

Such experiments could include: identifying the perfect curb height, the right number of lanes and studying the ideal layout to ensure a guest never waits for an autonomous vehicle.

In the future, Disney could build A.I. into their MagicBand product, which would notify Disney’s fleet of autonomous vehicles that a guest is leaving the park and heading to the autonomous vehicle drop-off and pick-up zone.

The A.I. engine would be able to ensure that there are always enough vehicles ready to transport guests without them having to wait or summon a vehicle.

This Disney magic will soon to come to cities around the world by re-zoning curb space for autonomous vehicles.

Cities must start passing ordinances now that permit autonomous vehicles to drop-off and pick-up passengers in front of their favorite restaurant or store. The ordinance could be achieved by simply adopting policy which would convert valet zones into autonomous vehicle drop-off and pick-up zones.

By planning for a future with autonomous vehicles, we simultaneously planning for a future where we will never drive again.

Never driving means we never park. We must start planning cities where parking, parking spaces, parking lots, multi-level parking garages, underground parking structures and all things parking are no longer needed and or required.

Autonomous Vehicle Drop-off and Pick-up Zones is an article written by Brulte & Company Co-Founder Grayson Brulte that was originally published in the January 2017 edition of Florida Engineering Society Journal.

Why Uber Needs Their Autonomous Vehicle Project to Succeed

With a current private market valuation of $68 billion and projected revenue of $5.5 billion in 2016, Uber’s revenue continues to grow as the company continues to lose billions of dollars.

To overcome the significant losses each quarter, it is imperative that Uber’s autonomous vehicle project succeeds as Uber is facing a crucial test that could ultimately determine the company’s long-term success — product consistency.

Uber’s lack of product consistency is partially a result of the overwhelming success of uberX. uberX is an inconsistent product where some rides are good, some are OK and some are bad. This inconsistency stems from a variety of factors including vehicle condition and driver attitude.

This is a widely known problem that consumers turn a blind eye to for the sake of price and convenience. In the future, consumers will not settle for product inconsistency as traditional car manufacturers and Alphabet’s Waymo launch product and value-consistent on-demand autonomous vehicle services.

If Uber’s autonomous vehicle project does not scale and succeed, the company’s achilles heel – product consistency – will be exposed, which will lead to further losses and further complicate an already complicated businesses.

Today, we are starting to see the early building blocks of this roadmap with the Waymo and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV partnership. According to Bloomberg, Waymo plans to use Pacifica Hybrid autonomous minivans to launch a commercial ride-sharing service. When this service launches it will be a consistent product with only one type of vehicle, whereas Uber has thousands of different types vehicles with unpredictable drivers.

Taking notice, GM is hedging their investment in Lyft against product inconsistency with the introduction of BOOK by Cadillac. BMW is following suit by scaling ReachNow, while Porsche is working on their upcoming Porsche Chauffeur service.

While the product offerings from Cadillac, BMW and Porsche are not autonomous yet, they will soon become autonomous. These companies are using these on-demand services to model user behavior and perfect an on-demand autonomous ride-sharing software platform.

Uber has the platform and a head start on autonomous vehicles compared to Cadillac, BMW and Porsche, but Uber does not have a consistent product offering. These car manufacturers have a consistent product and loyal brand customers. Waymo has a consistent product and significant autonomous driving data advantage, but does not have Uber’s scale or brand recognition yet.

To offset this threat to their core business of ride-sharing, Uber should expand their partnership with Volvo to deploy more self-driving XC90s around the world.

As the self-driving XC90 scales and Uber is able to achieve Level 5 autonomy, Uber should replace the uberX tier with what I would refer to as the uberA tier. uberA would be a consistent product comprising only self-driving Volvo XC90s (or a future autonomous Volvo model).

The uberA tier would ensure that every single time an individual summons an on-demand autonomous Uber, the product is consistent. No more bad drivers, no more vehicles that have not been cleaned and no more inconsistent experiences.

The uberXL tier could be replaced with autonomous SUVs that are all the same make, model and year. All of the current tiers of Uber could be replaced with a single autonomous vehicle model from a single manufacturer.

This model would save the traditional car manufacturers who choose to partner with Uber billions of dollars in research and development costs. While this might sound farfetched, in theory it is not. Manufacturers are in the business of selling vehicles, not operating fleets of vehicles.

The question is, would Uber adopt such an approach? Uber is currently buying the XC90s from Volvo, separate from the $300m Volvo has invested in the partnership.

Understanding Uber’s achilles heel will be one the keys for investors going forward. With a burn rate of billions of dollars a year, at some point Uber will have to start to generate a profit and offer a consistent product.

This is why we will continue to see Uber push for regulatory changes and invest billions of dollars in autonomous vehicle technology and artificial intelligence. Autonomous vehicles combined with artificial intelligence will allow Uber to scale a consistent product, generate a profit and avoid exposing their achilles heel.

It is truly the only way for the company to succeed in the long-term.

Why Uber Needs Their Autonomous Vehicle Project to Succeed is an article written by Brulte & Company Co-Founder Grayson Brulte.

The Futuristic Health Benefits Of Self-Driving Cars, Thanks To A.I.

In the future, self-driving cars won’t just prevent deaths from human error. An autonomous vehicle will reroute you to a hospital if a driver has a heart attack or a stroke, greatly increasing the chances of saving your life and others on the road.

Statistically, the inside of a vehicle is one of the most dangerous places for a human to be. Thanks to AI and its ability to sense a driver’s vital signs, it may become one of the safest.

In 2015, more than 38,000 people died in motor vehicle accidents per the National Safety Council. Of these accidents, 26 percent led to deaths that were caused by distracted driving.

Every day in the United States 4,110 heart attacks and strokes occur, or roughly 1.5 million every year. Drivers in the United States on average make 1.1 billion trips per day. This means that for roughly every 733 trips taken, one driver could experience a heart attack or stroke while behind the wheel.

This presents a real risk for everyone who gets into a car. If a driver does have a heart attack or a stroke, the chances of them losing consciousness and endangering themselves, passengers, other drivers or pedestrians is very likely.

These risks will greatly be reduced, if not eliminated, through the introduction and widespread adoption of level 5 autonomous vehicles. Today, we are already starting to see the benefits with semi-autonomous vehicles such as a Tesla.

This year, an individual driving on a highway in Missouri suffered a pulmonary embolism and manually rerouted the vehicle with autopilot to the hospital. The semi-autonomous autopilot feature saved the individual’s life, and in the future, fully autonomous vehicles will save a tremendous amount of lives.

This is just the first step. In the future, autonomous vehicles will be able to sense driver behaviors such body movement, temperature or even increases in respiration.

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

Through artificial intelligence and deep learning capabilities, the autonomous vehicle would understand the problem (partly due to the driver’s tone and body movements) and could then send a message to the nearest hospital that a patient in distress is arriving soon.

The medical staff at the hospital would be able to track the location of the autonomous vehicle and communicate with the passenger. Upon the vehicle’s arrival at a dedicated emergency autonomous vehicle dropoff and pickup zone, medical staff would be there waiting to take care of the passenger.

Furthermore, since the autonomous vehicle took control of the wheel, other drivers and pedestrians on the road were not put at risk.

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

The Futuristic Health Benefits Of Self-Driving Cars, Thanks To A.I. is an article written by Brulte & Company Co-Founder Grayson Brulte that was originally published on GE Reports.