The Road to Autonomy Podcast

The Road to Autonomy hosted by Grayson Brulte is a podcast featuring unconventional conversations about the future of mobility.

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Culture of Safety and Innovation

Chuck Price, Chief Product Officer, TuSimple joins Grayson Brulte on The Road To Autonomy Podcast to discuss TuSimple’s culture of safety and innovation.

In this episode, Grayson and Chuck start by discussing the economics of applying autonomy to fleets of trucks. Grayson asks Chuck if TuSimple ever considered creating a self-driving car.

In the founding of TuSimple, Chuck discusses why the founding team focused solely on trucking from day one. The team saw a difference in the economics of self-driving trucks.

We did see a difference. We saw that there were specific economic pain points in trucking. Robotaxis were solving a problem that didn’t appear to exist.

It was a fantasy, it was science fiction. It was a future were cities did not have to have individually owned cars. Where parking issues would be resolved. This is a grand vision without clear economic drivers.

– Chuck Price, Chief Product Officer, TuSimple

The conversation then veers into the universal driver debate and the great pivot to self-driving trucks from self-driving cars. Chuck shared his open and honest opinion on the universal driver.

I do not believe there is such a thing as a universal driver. It’s a marketing term.

– Chuck Price, Chief Product Officer, TuSimple

Wrapping up the conversation around the economics of self-driving trucks and why the universal driver is not the correct approach, the conversation shifts to TuSimple’s culture of safety and innovation.

TuSimple has a corporate culture of safety which they call ‘SafeGuard”. SafeGuard applies to every single employee in the company no matter what their job function or title is. From the individuals working on the trucks to the engineers writing the code to the executives leading corporate strategy, each and every employee is measured on their contribution to safety.

What Did You Do To Contribute to Safety?

– Chuck Price, Chief Product Officer, TuSimple

Safety is built into every aspect of what the company does, from the office to the depots to the on-road deployments. Drivers and safety engineers (Left and Right Seaters) go through six months of formal training before they are even able to touch the autonomy in the truck. Each and every safety driver goes through a drug test prior to being allowed in the vehicle.

TuSimple treats it’s drivers as Blue Angels as the company requires them to operate at the highest ability at all-times. When drivers and safety engineers leave the depot, they are monitored in real-time with in-cabin monitoring and drive cams to ensure the highest level of safety.

The culture of safety and innovation is attracting partners such as UPS, Penske, U.S. Xpress, and McLane Company Inc. to work with TuSimple. As TuSimple scales, the company is working with Navistar to develop SAE Level 4 self-driving trucks at the factory which are safety certified.

Rounding out the conversation, Grayson and Chuck talk about the economics of self-driving trucks and how TuSimple Self-Driving Trucks can show an ROI after the first 24 months of purchase.

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Brands, Experiences and the Future of Mobility

Pete Bigelow, Senior Reporter, Automotive News, and Host of the Shift Podcast joins Grayson Brulte on The Road To Autonomy Podcast to discuss brands, experiences, and the future of mobility.

In this episode, Grayson and Pete explore how autonomous vehicles will create new opportunities for brands to develop and curate bespoke frictionless experiences.

From sports to outdoor adventures to luxury experiences, in the future, you will no longer have to worry about forgetting to pack an item for your trip.

If you are taking a branded self-driving car to a football game, the vehicle will be stocked with all of the items you need for tailgating experience. No more worrying about who will be the designated driver, no more worrying about traffic or who is going to go to the store. The entire experience will be managed by the sports team.

Continuing on the brand theme, Pete and Grayson discuss how FCA created shareholder value by spinning out Ferrari as a publicly traded company. The conversation then veers into the value of the JEEP brand and if FCA might spin JEEP out as a separately publicly traded company as well.

Could FCA make the decision to spin-out JEEP and then announce and all-electric JEEP to capture the market’s excitement for electric vehicles and better position the company to compete with Rivian?

The conversation then evolves into a deep dive discussion around electric vehicles, the EV supply chain and the current state of the EV market. What automaker will make the most strategic move to capture market share? Did GM outmaneuver Ford on electric vehicle strategy? Pete and Grayson debate and discuss EV strategies and how these strategies will effect the future of autonomy.

Rounding out the conversation, they discuss the industry’s desire to have passengers face each other in SAE Level 4 autonomous vehicles. Where the autonomous vehicle industry is heading and what the future holds for autonomy.

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A Conversation with Mike Murphy: California’s Prop 22

Mike Murphy, Political Strategist and Co-Host of Hacks on Taps joins Grayson Brulte on The Road To Autonomy Podcast to discuss the political implications of California’s Prop 22 on the rideshare industry and the gig economy.

In this episode, Grayson and Mike dive deep into California politics, as Mike pulls back the curtain on how a referendum campaign is managed. While trends fashion trends might start in California, political trends also start there and spread across the globe.

With the introduction and passing of AB5 in 2019, politicians in California declared war on jobs and the gig economy. Prop 22 is on the ballot for November 2020, which would define rideshare and delivery drivers as independent contractors.

As we dive deep into policy, Mike discusses how political consultants are in the back-channel discussion business. The fine line they walk before scrambling to launch a political initiative.

The companies don’t want to do the hardball stuff because they are living under the illusion that the secret negotiations are working.

– Mike Murphy

This is why it is always a smart idea to play tough from the beginning. It saves, time, headaches, and money.

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Doing Good In The World

Jody Kelman, Director of Product Management, Self-Driving Platform, Lyft joins Grayson Brulte on The Road To Autonomy Podcast to discuss why self-driving cars are creating a better world.

In this episode, Grayson and Jody discuss curiosity and how it led to Jody securing an internship in the Irish Government during college. After graduating from college, Jody packed up once again and headed to Uganda to join a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO).

From a global curiosity conversation to a United States Presidential Transition, Jody has a deep understanding of global affairs and society in general.

Bringing the conversation full-circle, we shift into why it is important to take the first meeting with interesting individuals and how that openness led to Jody and Grayson’s friendship.

The conversation then shifts to a hyper-local conversation focused on self-driving developments. As Lyft beings to roll-out self-driving technology, the company is working to ensure a safe, clean ride experience.

From the student who can now visit a museum to an entrepreneur who opens an autonomous in-vehicle nail-salon. The possibilities of what self-driving cars can enable are endless.

Self-driving creates a better world for all of us to live in.

– Jody Kelman, Director of Product Management, Self-Driving Platform, Lyft

For children, self-driving cars can unlock unlimited possibilities to experience new learning environments leading to a life long love of learning and curiosity.

Curiosity can take you around the world. Curiosity can take you to the ocean to study marine biology. Curiosity will take you anywhere you want to go. The Lyft self-driving network will make unlocking curiosity possible for millions of individuals around the United States.

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Innovation is a Good Thing. Innovation is a Job Creator.

Jonny Morris, Head of Policy at Embark Trucks joins Grayson Brulte on The Road To Autonomy Podcast to discuss the intersection of policy, regulation, and technology.

In this episode, Grayson and Jonny discuss the regulatory environment and the misconceptions around self-driving trucks. Jonny discusses the hurdles that need to be overcome before trucks are regularly driving autonomously on public roads around the United States.

Building upon Jonny’s background in The White House we dive into policy and discuss how self-driving trucks will create new jobs. With Embark’s transfer hub strategy, Embark is creating new jobs in the trucking industry.

The Embark model is a transfer hub model that combines the strengths of the traditional truck driver with the strengths of an automated driving system. The automated driving system does not get distracted and can drive long periods of time. When the self-driving truck arrives at an Embark transfer hub, a traditional driver takes the load for the final mile of delivery.

Innovation is a Good Thing. Innovation is a Job Creator.

– Jonny Morris, Head of Policy, Embark Trucks

Embark is solving a problem by playing to strengths of the current state of automation. Continuing the conversation, Jonny and Grayson discuss the jobs that will be created by self-driving trucks. Why the industry has historically not attracted women and the economics of self-driving trucks.

Closing out the conversation, Jonny offers his advice on Self-Driving Trucks to Democratic Presidential Nominee, Joe Biden.

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