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].

Waymo’s Rider-Only Experience

Sonca Nguyen, Product Manager, Waymo joined Grayson Brulte on The Road To Autonomy Podcast to discuss Waymo’s rider-only experience.

The conversation begins with Sonca comparing and contrasting her first Waymo rider-only ride in Chandler, Arizona in 2019 to her first rider-only experience in San Francisco in 2022. From 2019 to 2022, the Waymo driver has matured and is now capable of handling even more demanding situations. The maturing of the driver was cultivated with the introduction of the 5th-generation Waymo Driver.

The maturing of the Waymo driver really allowed us to expand our Waymo One service.

– Sonca Nguyen

The technical advancements and the maturing of the autonomous driving system has allowed Waymo to expand to downtown Phoenix and the Sky Harbor International Airport. With the resort town of Scottsdale being located 8.4 miles from the Sky Harbor Airport and 11 million tourists visiting Scottsdale each year, Grayson asks Sonca if there are plans to eventually offer a Waymo Sky Harbor to Scottsdale service.

Waymo is fully committed to expanding our service there.

– Sonca Nguyen

The vehicles operating at Sky Harbor will be the Jaguar I-PACEs which have 25.3 cubic feet of cargo space. This space can hold 5 roller carry-on bags and will be available for travelers to store their bags on the journey to their destination, as the Waymo compute stack has gotten significantly smaller and more efficient over the years.

Could Waymo’s airport expansion come to other cities such as San Francisco? It’s a possibility, but nothing is confirmed yet. However today in San Francisco, Waymo is operating a trusted-tester program for members of the public and is operating rider-only for employees.

During this time Waymo has a learned how to improve the product, scale operations and operate a service with passengers. As the service opens up to members of the public, Waymo will continue to gather feedback which will further help to improve the product.

As the service opens to the public in San Francisco, Sonca walks listeners through what the Waymo rider-only experience will be like in San Fransisco. One of the interesting things that Waymo has learned from passengers in San Francisco is that they prefer to be picked up in parking lots as opposed to the street.

Wrapping up the conversation, Sonca shares her thoughts on how she sees autonomous driving technology evolving over the next decade.

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Recorded on Friday, July 1, 2022

Enhancing ADAS Safety

Manju Hegde, CEO, Uhnder, joined Grayson Brulte on The Road To Autonomy Podcast to discuss why 4D Digital Imaging Radar will enhance ADAS safety.

The conversation begins with Manju discussing why he gave a talk at the Univeristy of Michigan College of Engineering called; “When We Should Trust Self-Driving Cars” on July 28, 2016. The talk revolved around the topic of trust and the critical role it will play in the adoption of autonomous vehicles.

Trust is important. Trust is in fact, critical.

– Manju Hegde

Without trust, there will not be autonomous vehicles. Consumers have to trust that the autonomous vehicle will get them to and from their destination, safely and on-time.

Trust is a thing that you have to earn slowly. It cannot be accelerated.

– Manju Hegde

To build and maintain trust in autonomous vehicles, the proper exceptions have to be set. To properly set exceptions with the market and investors, Uhnder has focused on the ADAS market because as Manju says; “as a start-up revenue rules”. This philosophy was adapted and implemented because Uhnder is a semiconductor company which by definition is capital intensive.

Radar which got its start in World War II has traditionally been a capital intensive business, but it has been a business that has saved millions of lives around the world. Building upon the first radar systems which were produced in 1935 by Sir Robert Watson-Watt, Grayson asks Manju how radar has evolved since World War II.

It’s the progress in electronics, because remember in the Second World War, the integrated circuit was not there yet. So that was a huge advance. Then the progress in communications, that’s more recent. I would say that from 1940’s to say the 1990’s, it was a tremendous increase in electronics.

– Manju Hegde

Today, a majority of vehicles on the road have radar. Radar on vehicles increases safety due to their ability to detect objects on the road. The next evolution of radar is 4D Digital Imaging Radar. 4D Digital Imaging Radar has advantages over analog radar such as increased resolution.

The first vehicle that the Uhnder 4D Digital Imaging Radar will be available on will be the Fisker Ocean. Manju goes onto share the following about Henrik Fisker:

He is kind of the like the Frank Lloyd Wright of automotive design.

– Manju Hegde

As the market for 4D Digital Imaging Radar evolves, Manju shares his thoughts on how he sees the market maturing.

Wrapping up the conversation, Manju highlights the benefits of ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance Systems).

We should have better ADAS right now.

– Manju Hegde

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Recorded on Friday, June 17, 2022

Connected Car Ecosystem

Peter Virk, Vice President, IVY Product & Ecosystem, BlackBerry joined Grayson Brulte on The Road To Autonomy Podcast to discuss how the connected car ecosystem is reducing friction and enabling new experiences for both drivers and passengers.

The conversation begins with Peter discussing how his passion for cars first began and the summer holidays he spent repairing vehicles with his Uncle who worked at Ford.

The passion first began with the toy cars that my parents bought me. That is where the obsession started.

– Peter Virk

From playing with toy cars as a child to repairing vehicles in the summer with his Uncle, Peter followed his passion and joined the Rover Group for a 25 year run. With 25 years of experience building and developing new technologies for Range Rovers, Grayson asks Peter how he thinks about the future of mobility.

The future, if we were to really push the boundaries is, it should be, you should not have to think about it. You shouldn’t have to plan. My life, my schedule, will be planned. It’s got to know I have to get on the Eurostar tomorrow, and a vehicle will just turn up for me.

– Peter Virk

The future of mobility is a frictionless experience that is always on-demand and always available. It’s a future that involves a lot less planning and a lot more enjoyment of moving from point A to point B. Connecting the dots and enabling this frictionless future is where the Blackberry IVY platform comes into the picture.

The way that you reduce friction is, you make things happen. You make it easy.

– Peter Virk

As we look into the future, the car of tomorrow will be connected and act as an IoT device which will unlock new features and experiences.

The car of tomorrow with IVY will adapt. It will adapt to you. It will know your preferences. It will change. We’ve got software over-the-air around us now. So there will be new features. There will be ecosystem partners that we can allow to come in and work. These are not new innovations, these are expectations from consumers.

– Peter Virk

These features will be platform agnostic and part of the connected car ecosystem. This ecosystem will be maintained and highly scalable. Consumers will demand that the ecosystem is always up to date and new features are added on a regular basis as they are accustomed to this from their smartphone and connected devices at home.

It’s a term that I have used for many years, the always on, always connected, maybe even always listening and always available. These are foundational pieces that we expect, because that is what we got used to in our lives. Our smartphone may look like the screen is off, but it is actually on. It’s available, it’s listening, it’s giving me alerts when I need them. Why wouldn’t I not expect the same from my vehicle?

– Peter Virk

The consumer expectation is coming to the vehicle and Blackberry IVY is the platform that will enable consumer expectations to be met in the vehicle. Blackberry’s heritage of encryption and security are translated into the IVY platform. It’s a pillar of strength for IVY.

As consumers shift from internal combustion engines to electric vehicles, the health of the battery is starting to become a hot topic. How will the health of the battery be monitored and how will the data be shared and with whom? IVY can solve this problem as it’s a scaleable platform built on encryption and security that developers can develop apps for the ecosystem. A software defined platform is the future.

Wrapping up the conversation, Peter and Grayson discuss how automation can improve the user experience in the vehicle.

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Recorded on Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Freight is Fuel for The Economy

Greg Hrebek, President, Railspire joined Grayson Brulte on The Road To Autonomy Podcast to discuss autonomous trains and their impact on the economy.

The conversation begins with Grayson and Greg discussing the first partially automated train which debuted on London’s Victoria Line in 1967 and how train automation has evolved over the last 55 years.

Looking to the future of autonomous trains, Greg shares the following insight:

Where autonomy comes in is when you start treating autonomy as a tool, rather than the goal. If you have autonomy, you can then start doing more complex interactive interactions, we call that orchestration.

– Greg Hrebek

Orchestration will lead to the growth of intermodal as shippers look to develop infrastructure as-a-service model when large logistics companies begin to leverage autonomous trucks and autonomous rail due to efficiencies.

Today there are a lot of inefficiencies in the rail industry that can be solved with autonomy. Today, when a train comes into a yard with a crew, there is the chance that the crew could have to stay on the locomotive for 4 to five hours due to yard traffic. With autonomy, the wait is eliminated as the crew can disembark, while the locomotive waits and eventually drives itself into yard.

It increases the efficiency of the network in the sense that you are not waiting on that crew to timeout.

– Greg Hrebek

In the rail industry there is a current lack of workers as railroads are struggling to hire. Jim Foote, CEO of CSX stated the following publicly at a 2022 AllianceBernstein Holdings conference: “CSX is turning away freight from customers, ceding cargo business to truckers as the railroad struggles to hire workers.”

Technology is now a conversation of growth, not about labor savings.

– Greg Hrebek

As autonomy is introduced into the rail industry, it will help railroads grow and expand, which will have a positive impact on the economy. The technology will create new jobs various facets around the industry including maintenance as autonomous trains drive the track the same exact way each and every single journey.

When you remove variants and variability out of something, things tend to break the same way over and over again.

– Greg Hrebek

Taking a global approach, Greg shares his thoughts on autonomous train technology being exported to the world and where the technology will first be implemented. Grayson then asks Greg what role he wants Railspire to play as autonomous train technology scales.

We want to be the folks that one enable yard operation, yard throughput. We really want to fundamentally get folks thinking around that orchestration layer. What is the next step beyond autonomy? Autonomy now we know how to do it. I call it an exercise in engineering, there is still a lot to figure out, there is a lot of logistics, but we see that we have proven it out.

What is next? Once we have autonomous trains, what are the things we need to focus on? What are the things we have not thought about? Our goal is to help highlight those things.

– Greg Hrebek

Wrapping up the conversation, Greg shares is thoughts on how the freight rail market will change when autonomous locomotives scale.

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Recorded on Tuesday, June 7, 2022

The Path To Profitable LiDAR

Ted Tewksbury, CEO, Velodyne Lidar joined Grayson Brulte on The Road To Autonomy Podcast to discuss Velodyne’s path to profitable LiDAR.

The conversation begins with Ted discussing why he joined Velodyne now.

I joined the company for three very simple reasons, first of all, I believe passionately that LiDAR is going to be an enormous market and it’s going to transform virtually every industry as we know it. Second, I believe that Velodyne has the right technologies at the right time to really capitalize on that opportunity. And, thirdly I knew that I had the right set of skills and expertise and grey hair to really help parlay the company’s technologies strengths into revenue growth, profitability and shareholder value.

– Ted Tewksbury

In 2021, Velodyne put in place a strong foundation for growth, including new executives and an upgraded Board of Directors. Now that the foundation has been laid, the company’s top priority for 2022 is to accelerate the company’s path to profitability.

We are doing that by rationalizing our cost structure, while at the same time driving deployments of LiDAR at scale into a wide range of industries.

– Ted Tewksbury

Taking a look at the current state of markets, Velodyne is prioritizing the industrial robotics and the intelligent infrastructure markets as the company focuses on generating profitable revenue today. Overlapping this market is the rapid growth of e-commerce fulfillment centers which inherently relay on industrial robots to move goods from the shelfs to the shipping line.

It’s not just about sensors. At the end of the day, our customers are solving a business level problem, so we offer the full stack solution, software plus sensors.

– Ted Tewksbury

Under Ted’s leadership as CEO, the company is taking steps to lower the cost of LiDAR to sub $500 by offshoring manufacturing to Thailand. When the sub $500 LiDAR sensor is achieved, growth will be accelerated, especially in the automotive market.

The biggest single challenge that faces not only Velodyne, but the entire LiDAR industry is cost. Because the competition is very inexpensive. The competition is radar and camera.

– Ted Tewksbury

In order to achieve cost reduction, the company has implemented a platform based design (MLA – Micro Lidar Array) strategy. With the company’s manufacturing occurring in Thailand and the current delay of 111 days for foods shipped from Asian Ports to the United States, Grayson asks Ted how he is managing the business for supply chain delays.

We’re taking very proactive steps to alleviate bottlenecks. We are not just sitting idly by and waiting for the macro crisis to subside. First of all, we have lined up multiple sources for critical components, which gives us more flexibility. Second, we have redesigned some of our sensors to use more readily available components.

Third, we’re judiciously building inventory on long lead-time components. Under those circumstances, that’s risky, and so we are requiring non-cancelable, non-returnable purchase orders from our customers.

– Ted Tewksbury

Behind this strategy is Ted’s goal of Velodyne becoming the world’s first profitable LiDAR company. To achieve this goal, risk has to be managed and this is where the non-cancelable, non-returnable purchase orders strategy into comes into play. Velodyne is showing shrewd business acumen.

Wrapping up the conversation, Ted shares his outlook on the economy.

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Recorded on Monday, June 6, 2022.