Grayson Brulte

Grayson Brulte

@gbrulte | @gbrulte

Grayson Brulte is an Innovation Strategist and Co-Founder of Brulte & Company.

In addition, he is the Host of The Road To Autonomy Podcast and Host of the SAE International Tomorrow Today Podcast.

He formerly served as the Co-Chair of the City of Beverly Hills Mayor's Autonomous Vehicle Task Force and was 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, Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The International Business Times, The Telegraph, Automotive News, Axios, Bloomberg, Forbes and The Hollywood Reporter.

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

Will Walmart emerge as a leader of the Autonomous Revolution?

If Walmart succeeds, society will greatly benefit as the autonomous vehicle adoption timeline will be moved up greatly.

Currently, there are 4,692 Walmart retail locations (as of April 30, 2017) in the United States comprising multiple retail locations in every single State. This unparalleled reach gives Walmart a unique competitive advantage over every company currently working on autonomous vehicle technology – physical retail locations.

No other physical retailer has locations in all 50 States. Putting this into perspective, Target currently operates 1,807 stores in 49 States, while Costco operates 510 warehouses in 44 States.

With this enormous geographical reach, Walmart is in a potential unbeatable position to bring society into the autonomous era by hosting autonomous vehicle demo days in every State. Walmart sponsored autonomous vehicle demo days would help alleviate the fear of autonomous vehicles.

The fear of autonomous vehicles is a fear of the unknown as a majority of the public have never been in an autonomous vehicle, let alone gone for a ride in one. A recent survey from AAA states that 78% of Americans are afraid to ride in a self-driving vehicle. The reason for this data is simple, 99% of Americans have not been for a ride in an autonomous vehicle.

While 99% of Americans may not have been for a ride in an autonomous vehicle yet, 95% of U.S. consumers shopped at Walmart or on in 2016.

The overwhelming reason why U.S. consumers shop at Walmart is value. The same value that U.S. consumers currently enjoy at Walmart will soon be a feature of autonomous vehicle usage, as the cost of ground transportation stands to dramatically decrease in coming years.

As the cost of ground transportation decreases while efficiencies in ground transportation increase, the perfect storm is brewing for a once-in-a-generation change in society – the end of car ownership.

When car ownership is eliminated for the majority of Americans, the savings will be tremendous. On average, according to think tank RethinkX, consumers will save $5,600 per year as they transition to on-demand autonomous vehicle services.

Which leads to a potentially unbeatable value proposition: savings combined with on-demand convenience. This value proposition plays directly into one of Walmart’s core strengths – value. This value proposition was reiterated by Doug McMillon President & CEO of Walmart when the acquisition of online shopping platform was announced:

Together, and Walmart can win the future of retail. We’re in the business of “saving people money so that they can live better.” But the value of our customers’ time cannot be overstated. To win the future of retail, we must save customers both money and time. By combining with’s technology, shopping experience, customers, and talent, we will do exactly that. We will exceed their expectations!

The expectations set forth in the announcement are currently being exceeded on Wall-Street as Walmart’s e-commerce sales organically grew 69% in Q1 2017.

To further continue to exceed expectations, Mr. McMillon should make another bold move by going all-in on autonomous vehicles. This could be done in one of two ways.

One, by acquiring an autonomous vehicle start-up and giving the company the resources they need to compete in the marketplace. Or two, signing a partnership with an autonomous vehicle company to offer the service exclusively to Walmart’s customers.

The global passenger mobility market, including AV’s, is projected to be worth $7 trillion by 2050. Walmart could undercut every single autonomous vehicle on price to gain share right out of the gate for a market opportunity as large as this one.

Doug McMillon has stated; “To win the future of retail, we must save customers both money and time.” Autonomous vehicles will allow Walmart to win the future of retail, as autonomous vehicles will save consumers time and money.

With fully autonomous vehicles, Walmart could fully integrate their e-commerce shopping platform into the vehicle further expanding the company’s reach.

Either decision would position Walmart well in an autonomous future. William Ruh, Chief Digital Officer at General Electric, recently told the Wall Street Journal, “Ten years ago, innovation was based on features and functions, now it’s about your business model and transforming your industry.”

It’s time for Walmart to transform the retail industry by going all in on autonomous vehicles and leveraging its unique competitive advantage – physical retail locations in all 50 States. If Walmart succeeds, society will greatly benefit as the autonomous vehicle adoption timeline will be moved up greatly.

Will Walmart emerge as a leader of the Autonomous Revolution is an article written by Brulte & Company Co-Founder Grayson Brulte that was originally published on LA CoMotion.

Planning for the City of Tomorrow

Autonomy will usher in the single greatest change in society since the Industrial Revolution

Autonomous vehicles will change every aspect of our society, and it is crucial that cities start to plan today. If cities do not plan for the future of autonomy today, they will face undue economic challenges as the urban plan will have to be redesigned and rebuilt to accommodate autonomous vehicles and eventually autonomous flying transport.

Traditionally cities have been laid out in a rectilinear grid of streets, tomorrow this will no longer be true as autonomy will change our transportation wants, needs and habits. In the future, there will be cities where vehicles are not permitted to enter the heart of the city above ground. Instead, vehicles will travel autonomously below the surface and drop passengers off at dedicated drop-off and pick-up zones.

Removing vehicles from city streets will free up valuable real estate for new buildings and open space areas. Cities will truly become walkable and bikeable. For longer distances, autonomous electric shuttles (modeled after golf carts) will be able to move individuals.

When planning for the city of tomorrow, cities have to take small steps to achieve big goals. While my vision for a city will not happen tomorrow, it is important that city planners begin to plan for the city of tomorrow, today.

Local City Councils should start by passing resolutions that clearly state their city’s support for autonomous vehicles and smart city technologies. In Beverly Hills, the City Council unanimously voted to adopt a resolution in April of 2016 stating that the City supports the development of an autonomous vehicle program.

At the same time, the City of Beverly Hills is currently developing a fiber-to-the-premises network which will start to come online in the Summer of 2017. Every commercial building, residence, multi-family dwelling and select pieces of infrastructure will be connected to the network. Having a scalable fiber network will allow the City to use the data gathered from connected infrastructure to optimize traffic flow as an example.

This is truly just a starting point as we do not yet know what the future holds for a connected city. But laying the groundwork for a city that is smart and connected is crucial. As part of the planning process, electric vehicle charging and smart grid technologies have to be taken into account.

Today we do not know what the standard for electric vehicle charging will become or where the vehicles will operate in the city. Cities can still plan for an autonomous connected electric future by modeling behavior and putting together a plan to lay enough electrical conduct to support high-speed electric vehicle charging.

To determine where the electric vehicles might need to be charged, cities should invite car sharing services into their cities under a data sharing agreement. An agreement which states that the car sharing service agrees to share aggregate data on the location of the vehicles and the times vehicles are used within city limits. This data will allow for a City to efficiently plan for an electric vehicle charging network and ensure there is enough electrical conduct to charge the vehicles.

Furthermore, the data gathered from car sharing services will allow Cities to model behavior as it relates to drop-off and pick-up zones. When autonomous vehicles start to operate in cities, it will be crucial for the city to have dedicated autonomous vehicle drop-off and pick-up zones with electric vehicle charging capabilities. The City of Beverly Hills is currently evaluating converting the valet zones into autonomous vehicle drop-off and pick-up zones to prepare for the future.

While the City of Beverly Hills has been at the forefront of autonomy and smart city technologies, every City in the world can be as well. To be at the forefront, cities have to play to their strengths.

If a city is located on a river or the ocean, it can increase renewable energy and optimize transportation with autonomous ships. Each and every city has their very own unique competitive advantage, they just might not know it yet.

For cities to find their competitive advantage, they should let the world know that their city is open to innovation. When the world knows, engage in open and honest conversations with the smartest minds in the world. Cities might just be surprised how easy it is to start planning for the city of tomorrow.

Planning for the City of Tomorrow is an article written by Brulte & Company Co-Founder Grayson Brulte that was originally published in the January 3, 2017 edition of AutomotiveIT.

Letter to the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) re: Proposed Rules for Driverless Autonomous Vehicles

Written Comments submitted to the DMV on the Proposed Rules for Driverless Autonomous Vehicle (April 25, 2017 Public Hearing)

I am writing to express my humble opinion on the new proposed rules for fully autonomous vehicles without drivers. When drafting the rules that will govern fully autonomous vehicles in the State of California, I would ask that you take the following statement into account: a child born today will never drive.

As a parent, this is a blessing and something that I am extremely thankful for as distracted driving is a national epidemic. In 2015, more than 35,000 people died in motor vehicle accidents in the United States. Of these, 26% lead to deaths that were caused by distracted driving.

This is a number that unfortunately I expect will grow as individuals in the United States look at their devices over 8 billion times a day. Americans have become falsely accustomed to driving while checking their smartphones.

The only way to solve this epidemic and ensure that our roads are safe is to openly embrace fully autonomous vehicles without drivers. To achieve this goal, the DMV should remove the burdens currently put on the autonomous vehicle industry of requiring disengagement reporting. The current disengagement reports have caused misleading public narratives in the media.

Misleading narratives have a dramatic negative effect on the timeline for the adoption of fully autonomous vehicles. The general public follows the headlines, and for the most part, do not read the full report. These misleading narratives generate headlines that only increase web traffic, leading to greater advertising revenue.

This vicious cycle will only continue if the DMV requires disengagement reporting. If the DMV removes the disengagement reporting requirement, the autonomous vehicle industry would be more inclined to expand testing of fully autonomous vehicles in the State of California.

As an alternative to disengagement reporting, the DMV may want to consider ways to have autonomous vehicle companies report things the vehicles did well or safely. For example, when an autonomous vehicle came to a stop in order to avoid a collision, this could be reported.

This approach would send a much more powerful message to the public and it is inline with the DMV’s mission to serve the public by providing quality.

The DMV has to encourage the testing of fully autonomous vehicles in the State of California. Over 38 million California residents are counting on the DMV to make our roads safer.

If the DMV takes the proper action with the new proposed rules for fully autonomous vehicles without drivers, our roads will be safer. With fully autonomous vehicles, parents of children born today will never receive the life changing call that their child has been involved in a deadly car accident.

In the future, this call will never come as autonomous vehicles are taking us towards zero deaths.

I sincerely hope that the DMV will support and openly embrace fully autonomous vehicles. Our children are counting on you to do the right thing.

Letter was written by Brulte & Company Co-Founder Grayson Brulte that was sent to the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) on April 7, 2017 per the submission guidelines.

Imagining a Louis Vuitton Autonomous Vehicle Service

Brands touch every aspect of our lives, and in the future globally-recognized brands such as Louis Vuitton could launch autonomous vehicle services

As Bernard Arnault, CEO of LVMH, explores synergies across the group’s 70 brands, a Louis Vuitton branded autonomous vehicle service could act as the next catalyst of growth for the brand.

With recorded revenue of €37.6 billion and organic revenue growth of 6% in 2016, LVMH is well positioned to invest in and launch an autonomous vehicle service under the Louis Vuitton brand.

With a rich history of creating trunks tailor-made for travelers dating back to 1859, Louis Vuitton can once again innovate and introduce a product for the traveling life — autonomous vehicles. Instead of selling a physical product such as a trunk, Louis Vuitton would instead sell an autonomous vehicle subscription in select cities around the world.

Each and every vehicle would be a unique, luxurious experience tailored for the most discerning clientele. Leveraging synergies across the LVMH group, Krug Grande Cuvée champagne could be pre-stocked in the autonomous vehicle for a couple who are attending the theatre at Palais Garnier. Upon the vehicle’s arrival at the couple’s residence, the champagne would be properly chilled and ready to be served en route.

This memorable experience could be replicated across the 29 cities for which Louis Vuttion has published a City Guide. During the months of October through August, LVMH could offer the Louis Vuitton autonomous vehicle service on the island of St-Barth in conjunction with the Cheval Blanc resort.

The luxurious autonomous vehicles on St-Barth would be designed for the warm Caribbean weather complete with their own bespoke offerings exclusive to Cheval Blanc.

Every OEM and ride-sharing company currently working on developing autonomous vehicles and technology is thinking about scale and mass-market. However, Louis Vuitton would be solely focused on a niche market which is accustomed to paying a premium price for high-end products and services.

Leveraging their controlled niche market, LVMH would be able to scale the Louis Vuitton autonomous vehicle without devaluing the brand. Case in point: Uber is currently suffering from brand devaluation as they do not offer a consistent service. Every ride in an Uber is different, while every ride in an LV autonomous vehicle would be luxurious and consistent.

Building on over 100 years of brand management, Louis Vuitton has guidelines and policies in place to ensure consistency. By focusing on 29 world-class cities and Cheval Blanc hotels, LVMH would ensure that the overall integrity of the brand is not devalued.

Should the Louis Vuitton autonomous vehicle service be successful, LVMH could expand the service and deeply integrate it into the group’s holdings by offering the service at events around the world such as Baselworld, Cannes Film Festival and The Louis Vuitton Cup.

Integrating the service with exclusive Louis Vuitton sponsored events would reinforce the intrinsic value of the brand. The future is bright for the Louis Vuitton brand. Now it is time for the brand to take the next logical step and introduce an on-demand autonomous vehicle service complete with matching luggage in 29 cities around the world.

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.