Hold the Chauffeur! Beverly Hills Pushing for Fleets of Self-Driving Cars

“Imagine an autonomous vehicle going down Rodeo Drive,” says Mayor John Mirisch, who has met with tech giants Google and Apple to drum up interest (and investment) to make his municipality the first to integrate self-driving cars into its mass-transit infrastructure.

In case you didn’t have enough screens in your life, Grayson Brulte wants you to add one more: your car. Specifically, if the co-chair of the city of Beverly Hills Mayor’s Autonomous Vehicle Task Force prevails, your self-driving car.

The city has met with such tech giants as Google and Apple to drum up interest (and investment) in an effort to become the first municipality to integrate self-driving cars into its mass-transit infrastructure. But beyond all the civic advantages, Brulte insists that Hollywood should get behind the initiative for self-serving reasons. “The industry is going through massive disrupting changes,” he says. “But no one is looking at autonomous vehicles.”

Recent studies underscore the upside. “The car is effectively the fourth screen for media content consumption,” declared a 2016 Morgan Stanley report. “In our view, this is what Silicon Valley will be targeting by leveraging the autonomous utility.” In that vein, a recent Ernst & Young report concluded that driverless cars could generate $20 billion in incremental growth through increased streaming revenue.

Beverly Hills seeks to be a home for these futurist visions, a place where, Brulte hopes, industry players will see how driverless cars can improve their lives — and their bottom line. “Hollywood execs take for granted that everyone wants to watch their content,” he says. “The studios should make sure their content is there. It has to be different from a phone, or a house — there has to be an experience for the car.”

Beverly Hills already is a top contender as a lab for driverless cars. The first rail stop of Metro’s Purple Line is set to debut in 2023, but the city could be on track to have its own fleet of autonomous cars or mini-buses well before then. In April, the City Council voted unanimously to create a program to develop self-driving cars as part of a public transportation plan that would use existing infrastructure and technology to help connect cars to the city’s informational grid.

“L.A. is faced with a public transportation system that is second-class,” says Beverly Hills Mayor John Mirisch, who hopes to have a fleet up and running in five to seven years. “We aim to shift that paradigm on its head.” Mirisch says the excellent roads, quality infrastructure and well-educated populace in Beverly Hills make it an ideal place for auto engineers, inventors and tech companies to make a big splash. The city is in talks with such car manufacturers as Google, Volvo and BMW as well as with cutting-edge companies like Local Motors, an Arizona firm that manufactures self-driving cars with 3D printers.

“Imagine an autonomous vehicle going down Rodeo Drive,” says Mirisch. “A lot of entertainment people who wanted to go into town wouldn’t have to worry about parking.”

THE FUTURE OF L.A. TRANSIT IS UNDERWAY

What will life be like here when you no longer can complain about traffic? Within a few decades, the Hyperloop, a high-speed rail and self-driving cars will alter how you travel — and how fast.

1. HYPERLOOP

From a proposed L.A. terminus in Santa Clarita, Elon Musk’s high-speed tube-transport system could reach San Francisco in less than an hour. Tests of the technology, which theoretically could top 700 mph, already are underway.

2. HIGH-SPEED RAIL

With construction underway (in the Central Valley), this project is slated to serve L.A. and San Francisco by 2029. The trains, which will travel up to 220 mph, would connect the two cities in two hours and 40 minutes.

3. SELF-DRIVING CARS

Beverly Hills is pursuing plans that would make it the nation’s first city to integrate autonomous vehicles into its public-transit system.

4. METRO EXPANSION

Overdue growth to existing rail might be less futuristic than 700 mph pneumatic tubes but arguably more transformational for most Angelenos. Highlights include a new line linking Culver City and the rest of the Westside to LAX (2019) and a Purple Line extension down Wilshire to La Cienega (2023) and — don’t hold your breath — Westwood (2035).

5. FLY TO MARS (SERIOUSLY!)

Elon Musk and his Hawthorne-based SpaceX plan to send well-funded private travelers to Mars by 2024 (arriving a year later).

As featured in the July 22, 2016 issue of The Hollywood Reporter

Inside Beverly Hills Self-Driving Car Plans

“An autonomous vehicle can’t drink and drive, an autonomous vehicle can’t make an illegal U-turn, and an autonomous vehicle can’t run a red light. Those safety aspects will help increase the traffic flow.”

LOS ANGELES — For most Americans, the name Beverly Hills probably conjures images of celebrities, paparazzi, fancy cars and trendy nightclubs. But if all goes according to Mayor John Mirisch’s plan, the City of Beverly Hills could become known for something entirely different: Mirisch wants to make his affluent Southern California city the first in America to have a fully autonomous fleet of shuttles, i.e., driverless cars that use sensing technology to ferry passengers all around town.

“I loved ‘The Jetsons’ when I was a kid, but I don’t think I ever thought of a municipal autonomous shuttle system until fairly recently, in the past couple of years,” Mirisch said in an interview. “We want to encourage people to walk more, to bike more, but this is also a great solution.”

Nationally, the conversation around self-driving cars is reaching a fever pitch. Some 30 corporations, from Google to Tesla to Honda, are all investing in the technology. Perhaps the biggest signpost pointing toward the reality of self-driving cars is the fact that the industry now has its very own lobbyist, David Strickland, whose job will be to push the federal government to regulate this nascent but exciting form of transportation. “This technology will be available soon,” Strickland told the Verge recently.

While futurists may welcome the idea of a fully autonomous system of public transportation, it’s far from a reality. In fact, Mirisch’s plan is more conceptual at this point than anything else.

While Mirisch touts the fact that Beverly Hills streets are a “perfect testing ground” for this sort of technology — he says there are few potholes and first-responder times average under three minutes — the reality is that the infrastructure could take millions in investment. And while the City Council passed a resolution last month, it did not allocate any funding to the enterprise. According to City Council documents, the first phase of building this system would be an “exploration of grant opportunities for the program [and] outreach to AV manufacturers for a potential partnership.” In other words, the city doesn’t exactly know how to make this happen and wants someone else to pay for it.

Plus, while Mirisch says the city is speaking with different “potential” technology partners — Google, Tesla, and Audi are mentioned casually in council documents — absent any signed deals, there’s no real road map to actually build this infrastructure and get the project off the ground. So there is a glimmer of Hollywood to the mayor’s pitch: It’s a great idea to drum up publicity, but not much in the way of a concrete plan.

Regardless, last month, Beverly Hills City Council members voted unanimously to pass Mirisch’s “groundbreaking resolution” that would create “a program to develop autonomous vehicles as public transportation.”

Mirisch says the plan to develop the fleet of high-tech shuttles was inspired by a decidedly lower-tech development. In 2015, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which operates the LA subways, approved a plan to build two subway stops in the middle of Beverly Hills. But the Metro division did not include plans for parking lots near the station, which presented a logistical issue that city planners call a “first and last mile” problem.

Still, it raises the question: Why develop a fleet of autonomous vehicles rather than simply increase the number of city buses with drivers? According to Mirisch, it’s a matter of efficiency and safety.

“Autonomous vehicles process algorithms a lot quicker than a driver can react, can use the streets better,” the mayor says. “There’s all sorts of things that autonomous vehicles could do that drivers simply could not do. Ultimately we were looking at this system as something that’s going to be a cost-effective way of transporting people on demand from point A to point B in the city. It’s something that doesn’t exist now.”

The idea of autonomous vehicles excites Mirisch, in fact, precisely because the difficulties of taking trains and buses discourage commuters from using them, he said. He’s critical of the current system of public transportation, and said he believes Beverly Hills can do better. “Currently, public transportation is a second-class form of transportation,” he says. “You use it not because you want to but because you have to, because you can’t afford it or you can’t drive.”

Not everyone is so enthralled with Mirisch’s plan. In the days following the announcement, there were plenty of sarcastic jabs from critics who said the idea was simply proposed because wealthy residents wouldn’t stand for adding to the number of city buses around Beverly Hills.

“An old-fashioned subway is being built. … A city would normally feed it with buses or other forms of transit, but not Beverly Hills, they want shiny,” wrote Lloyd Alter, a transportation blogger for Treehugger.com. Alter also took issue with the fact that the shuttles could be summoned only by smartphone. “Because being Beverly Hills, the poor, the aged and everyone else has a smartphone.”

Mirisch, however, says that by the time the shuttles could be up and running — sometime before 2023 — most people would have a smartphone, and this initiative would ultimately help people who can’t drive. “It could alleviate traffic, but it could also provide mobility to seniors, disabled people and children,” he said.

Still, there will be challenges. The first, naturally, will be cost. Mirisch would not cite any cost estimates, but said he and his administration are currently working with “different tech companies” that would be partners in the initiative.

Though the plan is subject to change, the mayor says the shuttles would be configured to seat anywhere between eight and 12 people. And because the city, which is 5.7 square miles, is currently being fitted with fiber-optic cables, autonomous vehicles could easily speak to each other with networked sensors. Mirisch is also open to the idea of allowing Beverly Hills to become a test site for personal self-driving cars, but the focus, he says, is simply high-tech public transportation. “While we welcome the use of autonomous vehicles for private individuals, what we’re trying to do is bring that technology into the realm of public transportation,” he says.

Grayson Brulte, co-chair of the Beverly Hills autonomous vehicle program, points out that alleviating traffic — not surprisingly — will be a key coup for the city. Just like everywhere else in the Los Angeles area, Beverly Hills is constantly beset by snarling traffic jams. But Brulte also stressed that autonomous cars could make the city safer, especially by reducing human errors. “If you and your wife want to go and have dinner, you can have a drink,” he says. “An autonomous vehicle can’t drink and drive, an autonomous vehicle can’t make an illegal U-turn, and an autonomous vehicle can’t run a red light. Those safety aspects will help increase the traffic flow.”

Before any of this can become a reality, California legislators and the state Department of Motor Vehicles will have to create rules and regulations to allow development to begin. Mirisch is aware this may be a long battle, but the result could be transformative for the city. “This is the early days,” Mirisch says. “But if AVs become a first-class form of transportation, then that’s quite literally a revolution.”

Next fall, the City of Beverly Hills will sponsor an autonomous vehicle conference at the University of Southern California to “include a panel discussion on the current state of AVs, the potential for AVs to play a role within the larger multi-modal transportation environment and the current regulatory landscape.” Perhaps by then, the city will have a more precise vision of how this plan might actually work.

As featured in The International Business Times on May 19, 2016

When He Speaks the World Listens

During the City of Beverly Hills Council Study Session Meeting on December 1, 2015, Councilwoman Nancy Kranse said “When He Speaks the World Listens” with reference to Brulte & Company Co-Founder Grayson Brulte

Burton Cummings Radio powered by bop.fm

Burton Cummings Announces “Burton Cummings Radio” powered by Y Combinator Startup bop.fm to Bring His Unique Musical Insights to the Next Generation of Fans.

For the first time ever, fans will receive a unique glimpse into Burton’s personal music collection.

Burton Cummings, the Former Lead Singer, Songwriter and Voice of The Guess Who and renowned Solo Artist whose songs include “American Woman”, “These Eyes,” “No Time”, “Share The Land” and “Stand Tall”, partners with the Y Combinator Startup bop.fm to launch Burton Cummings Radio; a Monthly Music Playlist.

Burton Cummings announced today that he will curate a monthly playlist for music service aggregator bop.fm, starting with his second playlist titled “Journey For a Memorable Friday Evening”. Fans can stream the “Journey For a Memorable Friday Evening” Playlist starting today at Burton Cummings Radio.

Cummings’ deep knowledge of music combined with his love of new technologies and platforms will enable him to curate a monthly playlist for bop.fm that will be both diverse and span generations of musical artists.

“Playlists are a very familiar part of my life. I always have access to dozens and dozens of playlists in my car on the iPods” says Burton Cummings. For the first time ever, fans will be able to have a glimpse into Burton’s personal music collection through his monthly bop.fm playlists.

Each month, Cummings will take fans on a musical journey that spans generations and introduces fans to artists and music that they might have never listened to before.

“My playlists will always be all over the musical map, whether it be instrumental music, soundtrack goodies, classic rock, progressive and golden age jazz, or anything else that’s interesting or even mildly compelling in some way” says Cummings.

“With Burton Cummings Radio, my goal is to explore and present many varied styles and genres of music, but they will all be done well. I love any music that draws me in” Burton Cummings goes on to say.

Fans will be able to stream the Burton Cummings Monthly Playlists on BurtonCummings.com real-time website powered by RebelMouse and on bop.fm.

Cummings’ is encouraging fans to share the bop.fm monthly playlists on Twitter and Facebook using the hashtag #BCPlaylist. Fans will also be able to embed the monthly playlists into their personal websites and blogs.

bop.fm combines several major music services into a single, universal link that anyone can access, regardless of their country or preferred music service. That means that users of streaming services such as Spotify and Beats Music can easily share a playlist with their friends who don’t use those services or who live in a country such as Canada where those services are not available at all.

“By partnering with the Y Combinator backed bop.fm we are simultaneously creating a wonderful experience for music fans to discover new music while exposing Burton Cummings’ music and musical insight to a whole new generation of fans” says Innovation Consultant Grayson Brulte of Brulte & Company.

“When Burton reached out to us to collaborate, we were deeply honored and, frankly, surprised,” says Shehzad Daredia, CEO of bop.fm. “There’s not a lot of musicians from his generation who understand and embrace streaming as well as innovative ways to interact with their fans. Then we checked out his slick website and realized just how far ahead of his peers Burton is when it comes to digital strategy. Plus, he makes some pretty eclectic playlists.”

Sit back, tune in and let Burton Cummings take you on a monthly musical journey of a lifetime.

About bop.fm
bop.fm is a Y Combinator-backed music technology company that creates a home for every song on the internet. The company aggregates several popular music services: Spotify, Rdio, Beats Music, iTunes, YouTube, SoundCloud and Deezer into one interface.

Users can then search for any song, play it using any service, and share/discover with any friend (even if they use a different service than you). bop.fm powers this same aggregation and service-agnostic music playback for Rap Genius, as well as music content publishers, messaging clients, social networks, artists/labels, and other partners.

Grayson Brulte Named Senior Technology Advisor for Rasmussen Media Group

Asbury Park, New Jersey — Grayson Brulte has been named Senior Technology Advisor for the Rasmussen Media Group. Brulte, based in Southern California, brings to the team a history of leveraging old and new media platforms for maximum impact.

“We’re delighted that Grayson will be guiding the technology initiatives to make our innovative content relevant and accessible in a new media environment,” said Scott Rasmussen, president of the Rasmussen Media Group. “Grayson’s task is to make sure we are building for the technology promise of tomorrow.”

Brulte has served as an innovation consultant for clients such as Burton Cummings, former lead singer, songwriter and voice of The Guess Who. He started his career by founding an interactive online music community, Sharing the Groove, featured in The New York Times. He also worked for Epic Records/Sony BMG in Digital Media Marketing and Promotions.

Mr. Brulte has been a member of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, and the California Copyright Conference. He successfully completed the Massachusetts Institute of Technology program on Technology, Organizations and Innovation: Putting Ideas to Work.

Earlier this week, Ralph del Campo was named Chief Operating Officer of the Rasmussen Media Group. The firm’s mission, based upon deep respect for the common sense wisdom of the American people, is to refine, enlarge, and empower the voice of mainstream America.

In founding the company, Rasmussen said, “Twenty-first century technology offers tremendous opportunities for creating community solutions to the challenges facing our nation.” He added, “There is a huge market opportunity in serving those who want to find solutions rather than play politics.”

Earlier in his career, Rasmussen was a co-founder of ESPN and the founder of Rasmussen Reports.

For the latest updates, follow Scott on Twitter @ScottWRasmussen

Press Release was originally published on RasmussenMediaGroup.com.