Autonomous Vehicles (Self-Driving Cars) will fundamentally transform society.

Our insights into autonomous vehicles are listed below in the form of articles for your perusal.

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

Brands as an Autonomous Vehicle Service

In the future we will subscribe to an autonomous vehicle brand as a service as opposed to owning and garaging an autonomous vehicle.

In the future we will subscribe to a vehicle brand and summon autonomous vehicles on-demand from our smartphones which will arrive in 2 to 3 minutes.

2 to 3 minutes is the “magic pickup time” according to Marc Andreessen. If autonomous vehicles cannot arrive in this time frame, there will be a dramatic drop-off in demand and usage. This drop-off in demand would cause the entire program to be underutilized therefore resulting in a negative domino effect that would impact the entire service.

Wisely recognizing the negative domino effect and industry research, which is projecting that up to 1 out of 10 cars sold in 2030 will be a shared vehicle, traditional car manufacturers are transforming into mobility companies. The goal of the traditional car manufacturers is to model the behavior of how vehicles with drivers are used as a mobility service in a variety of circumstances.

Circumstances such as which are the most common routes in a city? What types of vehicles are used for the service and on which days? What happens when it rains or the sun is out? Are different vehicles used? In January in Southern California is there an uptick in SUV usage when ski season is in full effect in the mountains? Or is it the opposite?

These are just a few of the questions that traditional car manufacturers will have to fully understand in order to properly develop and launch an on-demand autonomous vehicle brand as a service.

To achieve this goal traditional car manufacturers are making strategic investments in transportation network companies to co-develop the future of transportation. In January, General Motors invested $500 million in Lyft while Volkswagen invested $300 million in Gett.

Furthering their bet on autonomous mobility, General Motors purchased Cruise Automation for over a $1 billion in March with the deal closing in May. While General Motors has been aggressively leveraging their balance sheet and deep knowledge of cars to become a leader in autonomous mobility, others have been taking note.

Apple recently invested $1 billion in Chinese ride-hailing service Didi Chuxing. The investment by Apple is two-fold. One, it’s a clear signal that Tim Cook and company are doubling down on China. Two, Apple is indeed working on an autonomous car that could be manufactured and initially launched in China.

Angelo Zino, an equity analyst at S&P Global Market Intelligence summed up the investment as, “We think the investment makes sense as it should help improve Apple’s relationship with the Chinese government amid regulatory concerns.”

Mr. Zino is correct and further states, “We view the connected car space as a major growth opportunity for Apple and this investment could help the company with those initiatives.”

While Mr. Zino highlights the connected car, in my view that is just the tip of the iceberg as Apple currently has $181 billion of cash and investments (April 2016) in reserve overseas. The overseas cash reserve could tapped to fund the development and deployment of an autonomous vehicle service in China.

Furthermore, over 200,000 people die a year as a result of road accidents in China according to the World Health Organization. This number is more than four times the death toll from such accidents published by the Chinese government.

By removing the driver from the car, roads in China will become safer and the rate of fatalities from road accidents will fall as on-demand autonomous vehicles become prevalent on the roads of China.

This makes the investment in Didi Chuxing a shrewd political move. Apple could be viewed in some corners as helping to reduce the number of fatalities from road accidents with the introduction of an on-demand autonomous vehicle brand as a service powered by Didi Chuxing.

While Apple is making strategic investments in China to further their business interests and General Motors purchased an autonomous vehicle startup, other companies are taking a more holistic approach to the future of autonomous vehicles.

Volkswagen through their investment in Gett is working on developing a Porsche chauffeur service in the world’s largest cities. The premise for the Porsche chauffeur service is to model the behavior of how subscribers use the service and gather data on routes through deep learning. When Porsche feels comfortable with the logistics and autonomous hardware, the chauffeurs will be removed and the Porsche chauffeur service will become autonomous.

Klaus Froehlich, BMW AG’s head of development recently told Bloomberg in an interview, “the company that manages to offer driverless ride sharing cheaply and first will dominate this market. It’s a business proposition worth billions in profits that will cost billions to develop.”

Research released by McKinsey & Company in January 2016 projects that shared mobility, connectivity services, feature upgrades and new business models could expand automotive revenue pools by 30% adding up to $1.5 trillion in new revenue for companies.

On-demand autonomous vehicles will reshape global transportation forever and create fortunes for forward-thinking entrepreneurs and billions in new revenue for businesses.

Brands as an Autonomous Vehicle Service is an article written by Brulte & Company Co-Founder Grayson Brulte.

The Future of The Trucking Industry

The future of the trucking industry is a future where trucks operate autonomously with no drivers in the cabin and autonomous truck logistics officers operate, optimize and manage the fleets.

Fully autonomous truck platoons that do not rely on driver intervention to change lanes or join a platoon will revolutionize the trucking industry while improving safety and optimizing the efficiency of the fleet.

Autonomous truck platoons will reduce accidents caused by human error, improve efficiencies on the roadways, lower the costs related to transporting goods and create a new job category — Autonomous Truck Logistics Officers.

Today the largest cost related to transporting goods is labor. The cost of labor accounts for one-third of the total operating costs for each truck in a fleet. As autonomous truck technology advances towards Level 4 autonomy, labor costs will decrease as the role of the truck driver will evolve into an Autonomous Truck Logistics Officer.

An Autonomous Truck Logistics Officer will be an individual with a unique skill set who can remotely manage and optimize a fleet of autonomous trucks in select regions in real-time. The new job of an Autonomous Truck Logistics Officer will assist truck operators in optimizing the business of logistics — the delivery of goods to warehouses.

While the Autonomous Truck Logistics Officer focuses on logistics, the autonomous truck is focused solely driving and safety. An autonomous truck has a reaction time of just one tenth of a second, compared to a driver with a reaction time of 1.4 seconds. This lightning fast reaction time allows for trucks to platoon as close as 50 feet compared to the recommended 150 feet with a driver.

When the trucks are platooned together there is an increased fuel efficiency which can be as efficient as 10% and increase of 50% space on the roadway which will lead to increased efficiency in terms of time spent traveling on a roadway.

In 2014, trucks (single-unit 2-axle 6-tire or more) traveled 109,301,000,000 miles in the U.S. with the average age of a truck being 11.4 years old.

As trucks that are in use today age and technology advances, the trucking industry can start to prepare for the great migration to autonomous trucks which will take place between 2020 and 2025.

The great migration will happen between 2020 and 2025 as the technology will have advanced far enough to the point where having a human driver behind the wheel is no longer the safest option.

Regulations on both State and Federal levels will have caught up to the technology and Level 4 autonomous trucks will be operating on public roadways.

While we are still a few years away from 2020, companies that own and operate large fleets of trucks can start the transition to semi-autonomous trucks with Daimler’s Freightliner which is approved to operate on public roadways or by waiting for OTTO to begin selling their unique self-driving kit for trucks.

The Future of The Trucking Industry is an article written by Brulte & Company Co-Founder Grayson Brulte.

Apple Car and The Growth of the Services Business

An Autonomous Apple car combined with exclusive content and experiences will create Apple’s next great revenue growth opportunity: services.

As we move towards a future where autonomous vehicles will eventually replace cars with full-time drivers, the automotive, technology and entertainment worlds will soon merge to create the future of in-car entertainment.

When these worlds merge into a closed ecosystem, Apple will be one of the big winners as they will control the hardware, software and content. At this year’s Sundance Film Festival Apple quietly hosted private invitation-only events to meet with talent.

As Apple makes the rounds in Hollywood with a focus on developing original content for their yet to be announced OTT service they are quietly developing the future of content distribution right under our nose.

In a recent research report from the investment bank Morgan Stanley the firm stated: “The car is effectively the 4th screen for media content consumption after PCs, phones and TVs. In our view, this is what Silicon Valley will be targeting by leveraging the autonomous utility.”

In my view, Morgan Stanley is correct in their assumption and I believe that this is one of the next great revenue growth opportunities for Apple. In Apple’s 2015 annual report the company reported $19.9 billion in revenue from services (includes revenue from the iTunes Store®, App Store, Mac App Store, iBooks Store™ and Apple Music™ (collectively “Internet Services”), AppleCare, Apple Pay®, licensing and other services) which was a 10% increase in revenue from 2014 when services generated $18.1 billion in revenue.

When Apple officially introduces their electric autonomous car and a complementary section of the App Store solely designated for their in-autonomous car experience, service revenue will continue to grow year-over-year. In the Apple car section of the App Store Apple will be able to showcase and sell bespoke in-autonomous car experiences that were created exclusively for the Apple car.

Today Americans spend 75 billion hours a year driving which costs $507 billion annually in lost productivity according to Ravi Shanker, lead analyst covering the North American auto and related industries at Morgan Stanley.

With this lost productivity due to driving autonomous vehicles will create new opportunities for companies to introduce new services.

Instead of concentrating on the road and the surroundings, the former driver and passengers in an autonomous Apple car would be able to catch up on work or watch an exclusive Apple movie or TV show on the car’s screens while the car travels down the road.

To make this a reality Apple will need a secure private testing facility where they can test autonomous cars and new technology in secret.

With the introduction of the CA A.B. 1592 bill by Assembly Member Susan Bonilla (D CA-14) on January 6, 2016, Apple looks to have a deal in place to test their autonomous cars in secret at GoMentum Station in Concord, CA.

According to The Guardian Apple has had talks with GoMentum Station as early as 2015. Apple engineer Frank Fearon wrote in an email obtained by The Guardian: “We would … like to get an understanding of timing and availability for the space, and how we would need to coordinate around other parties who would be using [it].”

Assemblymember Bonilla who represents the district that GoMentum Station is located in, introduced CA A.B. 1592 as spot legislation earlier this year which coincidentally is almost a year after Apple first inquired about testing autonomous vehicles.

The CA A.B. 1592 “Autonomous Vehicles: Pilot Project” states:

Notwithstanding Section 38750, the Contra Costa Transportation Authority is authorized to conduct a pilot project for the testing of autonomous vehicles that do not have an operator and are not equipped with a steering wheel, a brake pedal, or an accelerator provided the following requirements are met:

(a) The testing shall be conducted only at a privately owned business park designated by the authority, inclusive of public roads within the designated business park, and at GoMentum Station located within the boundaries of the former Concord Naval Weapons Station.

(b) The autonomous vehicle shall operate at speeds of less than 35 miles per hour.

(c) A change in ownership of the property comprising the GoMentum Station shall not affect the authorization to conduct testing pursuant to this section.

The bill will allow for the testing of Level 4 autonomy. Level 4 autonomy is a fully-autonomous vehicle that does not have any option for human driving—no steering wheel or controls. Could Apple be following the lead of the Google with their self-driving car project by developing a fully autonomous car?

Furthermore, section C of the legislation would allow for a change of ownership without affecting bill. Could Apple be in negotiations to buy GoMentum Station to further their interest in autonomous vehicles?

In May 2015, Apple senior vice-president Jeff Williams called the car “the ultimate mobile device” and said that Apple was “exploring a lot of different markets … [in which] we think we can make a huge amount of difference”.

Could Mr. Williams be forecasting the future of Apple? While we are uncertain at this time, I am certain that autonomous vehicles will create a plethora of opportunities for forward-thinking individuals and companies.

Only time will tell whether or not Apple ultimately decides to produce a fully autonomous car complete with bespoke in-car entertainment experiences exclusive to Apple.

Without having to concentrate on the road at all times we will be able to enjoy a variety of exclusive content and experiences.

An autonomous Apple car combined with exclusive content and experiences will create Apple’s next great revenue growth opportunity: services.

Apple Car and The Growth of the Services Business is an article written by Brulte & Company Co-Founder Grayson Brulte.

City of Beverly Hills Leads on Autonomous Vehicles

By passing the resolution and openly embracing autonomous vehicles, the City of Beverly Hills will become the world leader in autonomous vehicles.

 On April 5, 2016, the City of Beverly Hills unanimously passed a groundbreaking resolution creating a program to develop autonomous vehicles as a form of public transportation. By passing the resolution and openly embracing autonomous vehicles, the City of Beverly Hills will become the world leader in autonomous vehicles.

This is a very important strategic step not just for the City of Beverly Hills, or the State of California, but for the United States as Europe has taken the lead on the adoption of autonomous vehicles on public roads.

The Mayor and City Council of Beverly Hills are leading on this very important issue that will change the world, create new jobs and allow those who are less fortunate as well as those who are elderly or disabled to rediscover their freedom once again.

Roughly a week and half after the City of Beverly Hills unanimously passed the autonomous vehicle resolution, 28 EU Member States met at the EU Council of Ministers and signed the Declaration of Amsterdam on April 14, 2016.

The Declaration of Amsterdam represents an agreement in which the 28 European transport ministers are committed to supporting and facilitating all forms of self-driving vehicles. This level of commitment by the EU transport ministers will allow autonomous vehicles to travel on European public roads and cross borders by 2019.

Melanie Schultz van Haegen, Dutch Minister of Infrastructure and the Environment sums up The Declaration of Amsterdam by stating:

“Today for the first time, we have talked at the European political level about self-driving vehicles and the measures required for their smooth introduction in Europe. We want to pick up the pace because there are many gains to be made for mobility. Connected and automated vehicles will make our roads safer, more sustainable and more efficient.”

The steps taken by Ms. Schultz van Haegen and The European Commission are impressive and should be commended, but the City of Beverly Hills has several strategic advantages as it relates to deploying autonomous vehicles on public roads.

The strategic advantages of the City of Beverly Hills are as follows:

1. Size

The City of Beverly Hills is 5.7 square miles compared to Europe which is 3.931 million square miles. Because the City of Beverly Hills comprises of only 5.7 square miles, “Beverly Hills is the perfect community to take the lead and make this technology a reality” says Mayor John Mirisch.

2. Location

Beverly Hills is an independent City in Southern California surrounded by the cities of Los Angeles and West Hollywood.

3. Weather

The average year-round temperature in Beverly Hills is 65.1°F with an average rainfall of 17.5 inches per year. This is the ideal climate to operate autonomous vehicles.

4. Infrastructure

The City of Beverly Hills has world-class infrastructure which encompasses roads with no potholes. The City is also in the process of building a world-class fiber to the premise network which will connect every residence, multi-family dwelling and business to the internet. As the vehicle 2 infrastructure (V2I) and vehicle 2 vehicle (V2V) technologies mature, the City of Beverly Hills will be able to connect those access points to the fiber network further enhancing the infrastructure.

These strategic advantages combined with a visionary Mayor and City Council who are openly embracing autonomous vehicles will allow the City of Beverly Hills to become the world leader in autonomous vehicles.

City of Beverly Hills Leads on Autonomous Vehicles is an article written by Brulte & Company Co-Founder Grayson Brulte. Grayson is Co-Chair of the City of Beverly Hills Mayor’s Autonomous Vehicle Task Force.