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.

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, Bloomberg, Forbes and The Hollywood Reporter.

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

Reputation Versus Expectations in the Autonomous Vehicle Industry

The severity of reputation crises is inversely proportional to the expectations stakeholders have about the organization or individual in crisis.

One of many reasons for close integration of crisis preparedness and operational planning is that as soon as you have made any significant operational decision, each impacted stakeholder – internal and external – is poised to have their expectations set. First by you, and thereafter by a growing number of mentions in traditional and social media and even mundane offline word-of-mouth. If something about your product or services fails to meet those expectations, dismay ensues – and the bigger the gap between expectations and reality, the greater the distress.

Ironically, this tenet regarding expectations disproportionately favors those whose reputations are not stellar to begin with.

Take the tobacco industry. Or Big Pharma. No one expects much from them as consumers other than the substances needed to feed tobacco addictions or the pills that can allegedly fix all our woes. No one is surprised or shocked when someone dies from cigarette smoke, even if a remarkably rare lawsuit is filed. Likewise, few are surprised when a medication is belatedly proved to be unsafe, even if they do get angry over it, because of the pre-existing poor reputation of the overall industry with regard to consumer safety.

On the other hand, let’s look at how the public reacted when Lance Armstrong turned out to be a cheat. Or when one of the world’s most reputable accounting firms turned its collective head when some of its partners were enabling the destruction of people’s futures in the infamous Enron case? Armstrong was disgraced and banned from his sport. Arthur Andersen went out of business – in the Court of Public Opinion, not in a Court of Law. In both cases, expectations had been very high – and the amount of anger associated with that type of reality gap invariably results in more protracted and viscerally angry reputation-damaging reaction.

History has provided the autonomous vehicle industry with a footprint of how not to react to a potential crisis. It is important that the industry as a whole understand the trials and tribulations other industries have faced during moments of uncertainty.

Let’s look at what happened when the Wright Brothers were pioneering the art of flying.

On Thursday, September 17, 1908 Orville Wright took Lieutenant Selfridge, a West Point graduate who was one of the army’s most knowledgeable aviation specialists for a flight. After a few minutes, the plane crashed and Lieutenant Selfridge perished in the crash and Orville Wright was seriously injured. Orville’s passenger that day was supposed to have been President Theodore Roosevelt.

This unfortunate accident did not slow down The Wright Brother’s determination. Instead, Wilbur Wright grabbed the bull by the horns and continued to test, build and modify planes.

While The Wright Brothers faced uncertainty after the crash, they did not let an unfortunate accident turn into a crisis that would derail all of their efforts and an entire budding industry. Instead the brothers went on to change history forever.

Hopefully the same thing will happen today. The big disadvantage innovators face today is social media and the spreading of false rumors that can derail a project and lead to a crisis. In 1908 it was never reported that President Theodore Roosevelt was supposed to be the passenger.

In 2016, this bit of news would have been leaked, causing a potential crisis to unfold. This is why it is very important for cutting edge innovators to have a crisis response plan in place, ready to be activated if a major incident is to unfold due to an accident of an autonomous vehicle.

Accidents will happen and innovators will have to be prepared to react not purely from emotion, but from a predefined plan to ensure the incident does not take on a life of it’s own.

Reputation Versus Expectations in the Autonomous Vehicle Industry is an article written by Brulte & Company Co-Founder and Co-Chair of the City of Beverly Hills Mayor’s Autonomous Vehicle Task Force Grayson Brulte and Jonathan Bernstein, President of Bernstein Crisis Management that was originally published on Bernstein Crisis Management.

Jonathan has more than 30 years of experience in all aspects of crisis management — vulnerability assessment, planning, training and response.

Autonomous Trucks, Trains And Ships Will Transform Commerce

Automation can improve the efficiency of the freight and transportation industries, which will be good news for a range of global businesses.

The advent of autonomous forms of transportation — vehicles that can sense and navigate their environment without human input — will usher in the greatest change in society since the Industrial Revolution. Autonomous vehicles will change every aspect of society, including the freight industry that’s already facing a metamorphosis.

Rising diesel prices and a slowing demand for some freight are among the sources of concern for a trucking industry today, according to the Wall Street Journal. But autonomous technologies can unlock significant efficiency and safety improvements in slowing industries like trucking and shipping — and industrial companies and service providers will once again reinvent themselves around these opportunities.

OTTO, a self-driving truck start-up based in San Francisco is working on a self-driving kit for commercial trucks that will allow drivers to sleep during long-haul trips, greatly improving safety and productivity.

Rolls-Royce recently announced an autonomous ship with no crew that will be remotely controlled through an augmented reality logistics command center.

“Autonomous shipping is the future of the maritime industry,” Mikael Makinen, president of Rolls-Royce Marine, said in a white paper about the technology. “As disruptive as the smartphone, the smart ship will revolutionize the landscape of ship design and operations.”

Today, labor accounts for a significant portion of total operating costs for each unit in a fleet. As autonomous technology evolves, industrial companies that rely on trucks or ships to move their goods could increase efficiency by removing the drivers from the trucks.

But what about those driving jobs? What will the role of humans look like in this scenario?

Rüdiger Grube, chairman and CEO of rail operator of Deutsche Bahn describes how “the role of the train driver and the train controller will increasingly merge in the future.” And as these roles merge, a new jobs category will emerge. New jobs will be created for individuals with unique skill sets who can remotely manage and optimize a fleet of autonomous ships, trains, trucks and vehicles in select regions in real-time.

Drivers and operators may be assisted by these new players — let’s call them “autonomous logistics officers” — who will manage the fleets from a remote command center in multiple shifts a day. When these roles merge, the quality of life of a truck driver will improve immensely. For companies that own and operate the fleet of autonomous trucks, they will see increase efficiencies and lower costs as the trucks will now be able to operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The age of driverless freight, especially trains, in the U.S. may not be in the near term. In July, the Federal Railroad Administration conducted a public hearing about a rule it proposed that requires two-man crews.

But soon consumers will be able to subscribe to an autonomous vehicle brand and summon a car when needed. When this technology is first introduced, autonomous logistics officers will manage the fleet to ensure that there are a sufficient number of vehicles in select locations based on demand.

Over time, the role of an autonomous logistics officer will evolve as artificial intelligence combines with deep learning and neural networks. Then industrial companies like freight businesses will once again reinvent themselves.

Autonomous Trucks, Trains and Ships Will Transform Commerce is an article written by Brulte & Company Co-Founder Grayson Brulte that was originally published on General Electric Reports.

Top image: Courtesy of Getty Images.

Autonomous Vehicle Guest Leasing Program — How the hotel industry can regain market share from Airbnb

One of the greatest beneficiaries of the autonomous vehicle will be the traditional hotel industry.

Hotel owners and operators that manage world class brands will be able to streamline their unique approach to customer service, increase food and beverage revenue, incidentals revenue and reduce parking costs and fleet operations overhead.

By openly embracing an autonomous vehicle strategy similar to the one described below, hotels will be able to offer a unique service that distinguishes their property from their competitors and the peer-to-peer lodging industry. With the rapid growth of peer-to-peer lodging industry lead by Airbnb, hotels have to adopt and improve their product in a non-traditional fashion.

By adopting the product to benefit from the future, hotel owners and operators have to first understand the following data points:

1. An individual who has stayed in peer-to-peer lodging in the last five years is half as likely to prefer staying in a traditional hotel.

2. In 2016, Airbnb will account for 5.4% of total U.S. room supply, up from 3.6% last year according to an estimate from Goldman Sachs. To put this number into perspective, only five star hotel operators have a market share greater than 5%.

The Challenge for Hotels: Getting ahead of Airbnb

While the strategy will need to be unique to each and every property, the general premise can be applied to the industry as a whole. AJ Willmer, a technology consultant based in Beverly Hills states the following, “the technology will take care of itself”. Mr. Willmer is correct and it is important for the hotel industry not to prejudge autonomous vehicle technology.

Today, we do not yet know how the technology will evolve or how individuals will adapt to new modes of transportation. What we do know today is that autonomous vehicles are going to change the world and industries will have to adopt their business models to accommodate for autonomous vehicles.

To successfully adapt business models and prepare for a future with autonomous vehicles, one must remove oneself from the hotel industry and refrain from thinking just like a hotel operator.

The future is autonomous vehicles will be a subscription service. In the future we will subscribe to a car brand and summon one of the car’s models depending on the journey that you were about to embark on. If are going skiing you will summon the SUV, if you are going to the beach you will summon the convertible.

Car Ownership – A Thing of the Past?

The car will be owned, maintained and serviced by the car manufacturer through a subsidiary service such as BMW’s ReachNow. The car no longer will used exclusively by you and your family. “We do feel that the car sharing is going to significantly increase in the future” says John Stapleton, North America CFO of General Motors. Mr. Stapleton is correct to a degree and in the future, the car will be summoned when you need the car.

But what if you had an exclusive premium luxury non-shared subscription for your primary vehicle? You arrive at the hotel and now what do you? Do you tell the autonomous vehicle to park and pay a daily parking fee? Or do you lease the car back to the hotel for a daily hotel credit based on the time you will not need the vehicle?

This would depend on if the hotel offered an autonomous vehicle guest leasing program. Carlos Ghosn, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Renault-Nissan Alliance has stated; “Connectivity and autonomous driving are about to change driving in ways we’re only beginning to understand.”

Mr. Ghosn is correct in his thinking and this is why it is important for hotels to once again lead on new technologies. The hotel industry has a long illustrious career of being an innovator. One of the first central fire alarm systems was installed at John Jacob Astor IV’s St Regis in 1904, which improved the safety of the guests staying in the hotel.

An autonomous vehicle guest leasing program would allow hotel owners and operators build upon the legacy of innovation commenced by John Jacob Astor IV with the opening of the St Regis in New York City in 1904.

Autonomous Vehicle Guest Leasing Program

Today’s hotels would be able to streamline their unique approach to customer service, increase food and beverage revenue, incidentals revenue and reduce parking costs and fleet operations overhead by implementing the following an autonomous vehicle guest leasing program strategy.

To streamline the approach to customer service, guests arriving to the property in an autonomous luxury vehicle that they subscribe exclusively to, would be offered the opportunity to lease the vehicle back to the hotel for a daily hotel credit that can be used towards incidentals while on property.

By offering the daily credit in exchange for the vehicle, hotels would eliminate the need to own and operate a fleet of traditional house cars with a driver. By no longer owning and operating a fleet of house cars, hotels would eliminate the monthly overhead costs for car payments, gas and/or electric charging, maintenance, parking and drivers.

Applying a daily hotel credit to a room night is a proven strategy that allows hotels to discount room nights without lowering the published room rate. Based on historical spending averages, hotel guests tend to spend more when they are receiving a daily hotel credit.

While hotels would not be able to depend on an autonomous vehicle guest leasing program to replace their house cars on day one, they would be able to depend on the program in the future as premium non-shared autonomous vehicles gain market share.

Additional Benefits

    • Vehicle insurance payments would be reduced to liability as the hotel would insure the autonomous vehicle while it is leased to the hotel by the guest.

    • Not only would this reduce monthly expenditures, it would lead to an increase of TRevPAR (total revenue per available room) as guests would be more likely to stay on property for meals and order a nicer bottle of wine at dinner, which would increase their incidentals spend while the vehicle generates revenue for the hotel.

    • As vehicles sit idle 94% of the time, hotels have to park the vehicles on valuable land that could be used to further enhance the guest experience instead of storing cars. For example there are 16 five star hotels in Los Angeles County according to American Express Travel and Los Angeles County has approximately 200 square miles of land (14%) devoted to parking according to a study from the Journal of the American Planning Association.

Imagine if a percentage of that land could be converted into green spaces in and around hotels what it would do to the guest experience? With sixteen five star hotels and hundreds of miles of land devoted to parking, hotel owners and operators in Los Angeles County have the perfect opportunity to optimize land use by developing and implementing an autonomous vehicle leasing program.

Autonomous vehicle leasing programs are the future. It is a program that is currently not well suited for Airbnb today due to the structure of how the peer-to-peer lodging industry currently operates with individuals hosts.

Once again, hotels will have the advantage when it comes to new innovations. But this advantage will not last forever. It is important for hotel owners and operators to fully embrace autonomous vehicles as they are the future that will allow their businesses to continue to grow in the midst of fierce competition.

Autonomous Vehicle Guest Leasing Program is an article written by Brulte & Company Co-Founder Grayson Brulte that was originally published on Continental’s 2025AD.

Top image: Courtesy of Fotolia / chameleonseye

Senior Citizens regain Mobility with Autonomous Vehicles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image courtesy of Google

The AI Market Will Soon Top $150 Billion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The AI Market Will Soon Top $150 Billion is an article written by Brulte & Company Co-Founder Grayson Brulte that was originally published on General Electric Reports.

Top image: Courtesy of Getty Images.