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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Autonomous Mining and Construction Operations

Bibhrajit Halder, Founder & CEO, SafeAI joined Grayson Brulte on The Road To Autonomy Podcast to discuss autonomous mining and construction operations.

The conversation begins with Bibhrajit discussing why in 2017 when the market was full of hype and investment dollars for passenger autonomous vehicles, that he bucked the trend and made the strategic decision to focus on the heavy equipment industry.

Bibhrajit’s strategic decision is paying dividends today as the global mining industry is a $2 trillion dollar market with accelerating growth thanks in part to the growth of the electric vehicle market. The heavy equipment industry is a key supplier to this market, setting SafeAI up with the perfect scenario for growth, all the while helping to improve safety and increase operational efficiency through autonomy.

This industry is also not the most safest industry. This industry also wants to run more efficiently.

– Bibhrajit Halder

The largest deployment of heavy equipment autonomous vehicles is located in Australia where there are over 1,000 actively heavy equipment autonomous vehicles in operation today.

The thousand autonomous trucks that have been running for seven or eight years, and they have moved about 4 to 5 billion tons of material over 24/7 operations without a single fatal accident.

– Bibhrajit Halder

Mines in Australia are capitalizing on the efficiencies unlocked by autonomy and the positive benefits that this technology has on society. In Western Australia, SafeAI has a partnership with MACA to retrofit 100 heavy equipment trucks for autonomy. While Australia is a booming market for heavy equipment autonomous vehicles, the markets of Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Canada and Japan are emerging markets with growth potential.

With autonomy scaling in the mining industry, Grayson compares the mining industry to the agricultural industry and asks Bibhrajit if he sees a global miner making autonomy acquisitions similar to the way John Deere has done to grow their business.

If you look at in general, any industry this kind of fundamental technology, there will be consolidation. No doubt about it. There will be consolidation and that consolidation happens naturally as different players come up and show their strengths and weaknesses.

– Bibhrajit Halder

While consolidation will happen at some point in the global mining industry, Bibhrajit is laser focused on serving his customers for the long-term. That is both in the mining industry and the construction industry where SafeAI is actively expanding their business through a partnership with the Obayashi Corporation in Japan.

This is the first step of our way to expand autonomous construction in Japan, and we are working hand-in-hand with Obayashi.

– Bibhrajit Halder

Wrapping up the conversation, Bibhrajit explains how autonomy compliments the mining and construction industries.

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Recorded on Tuesday, August 2, 2022

The Changing Landscape of Cities

John Rossant, Founder & CEO, CoMotion and Advisory Board Member, NEOM joined Grayson Brulte on The Road To Autonomy Podcast to discuss the changing landscape of cities.

The conversation begins with John discussing the vision for the futuristic region of NEOM which is roughly the size of Massachusetts located in the Northwest of Saudi Arabia. 95% of the NEOM region will be preserved in it’s natural state and there will be no highways or carbon emissions. Sustainability is at the core of NEOM.

NEOM is a very big bet on hydrogen. The core energy of NEOM is hydrogen.

– John Rossant

The heart of NEOM should be THE LINE development which is a 75-mile long and 1,600 foot skyscraper which is connected by a high-speed train.

The world does needs a radical experiment like this. We can not continue urbanizing as we have been, we are ruining the planet. If we can think of a way to do this in a sustainable way using renewable energy, that could be pretty interesting.

– John Rossant

In the United States, the City of Miami is growing and changing as new individuals move into the region from around the world. However the issue facing Miami today is the city’s all-in approach to cryptocurrency without diversification. Could the lack of the City’s diversification lead to another classic Miami boom and bust cycle? Grayson and John discuss the current state of Miami’s economy, while offering their unique opinions on the future of Miami.

Miami, it’s a much much much bigger story than just crypto.

– John Rossant

One of the stories emerging in Miami is the focus on decarbonizing ocean transport. Over in NEOM, there is a a mixed-use urban development called OXAGON located in the Red Sea which when completed will be the largest floating structure in the world.

In time, I think the Red Sea will become the new Mediterranean in terms of kind of yachting in paradise, boating, etc.

– John Rossant

The story emerging in Dubai is Cruise preparing to deploy the fully autonomous Cruise Origin in 2023 on public roads. With the advancement of NEOM and the emerging Cruise deployment in Dubai, the Middle East is beginning to emerge as a growing market for autonomy. While the Middle East is a growing market for autonomy, New York City is a shrinking market for mass-transit.

Mass-transit and public transportation have to be made fun and seamless.

– John Rossant

This is where multi-modal and on-demand mobility is thriving as consumers want what they want, when they want it without friction.

Wrapping up the conversation, Grayson and John discuss why the future of mobility is choice.

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Recorded on Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Waymo’s Rider-Only Experience

Sonca Nguyen, Product Manager, Waymo joined Grayson Brulte on The Road To Autonomy Podcast to discuss Waymo’s rider-only experience.

The conversation begins with Sonca comparing and contrasting her first Waymo rider-only ride in Chandler, Arizona in 2019 to her first rider-only experience in San Francisco in 2022. From 2019 to 2022, the Waymo driver has matured and is now capable of handling even more demanding situations. The maturing of the driver was cultivated with the introduction of the 5th-generation Waymo Driver.

The maturing of the Waymo driver really allowed us to expand our Waymo One service.

– Sonca Nguyen

The technical advancements and the maturing of the autonomous driving system has allowed Waymo to expand to downtown Phoenix and the Sky Harbor International Airport. With the resort town of Scottsdale being located 8.4 miles from the Sky Harbor Airport and 11 million tourists visiting Scottsdale each year, Grayson asks Sonca if there are plans to eventually offer a Waymo Sky Harbor to Scottsdale service.

Waymo is fully committed to expanding our service there.

– Sonca Nguyen

The vehicles operating at Sky Harbor will be the Jaguar I-PACEs which have 25.3 cubic feet of cargo space. This space can hold 5 roller carry-on bags and will be available for travelers to store their bags on the journey to their destination, as the Waymo compute stack has gotten significantly smaller and more efficient over the years.

Could Waymo’s airport expansion come to other cities such as San Francisco? It’s a possibility, but nothing is confirmed yet. However today in San Francisco, Waymo is operating a trusted-tester program for members of the public and is operating rider-only for employees.

During this time Waymo has a learned how to improve the product, scale operations and operate a service with passengers. As the service opens up to members of the public, Waymo will continue to gather feedback which will further help to improve the product.

As the service opens to the public in San Francisco, Sonca walks listeners through what the Waymo rider-only experience will be like in San Fransisco. One of the interesting things that Waymo has learned from passengers in San Francisco is that they prefer to be picked up in parking lots as opposed to the street.

Wrapping up the conversation, Sonca shares her thoughts on how she sees autonomous driving technology evolving over the next decade.

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Recorded on Friday, July 1, 2022

Enhancing ADAS Safety

Manju Hegde, CEO, Uhnder, joined Grayson Brulte on The Road To Autonomy Podcast to discuss why 4D Digital Imaging Radar will enhance ADAS safety.

The conversation begins with Manju discussing why he gave a talk at the Univeristy of Michigan College of Engineering called; “When We Should Trust Self-Driving Cars” on July 28, 2016. The talk revolved around the topic of trust and the critical role it will play in the adoption of autonomous vehicles.

Trust is important. Trust is in fact, critical.

– Manju Hegde

Without trust, there will not be autonomous vehicles. Consumers have to trust that the autonomous vehicle will get them to and from their destination, safely and on-time.

Trust is a thing that you have to earn slowly. It cannot be accelerated.

– Manju Hegde

To build and maintain trust in autonomous vehicles, the proper exceptions have to be set. To properly set exceptions with the market and investors, Uhnder has focused on the ADAS market because as Manju says; “as a start-up revenue rules”. This philosophy was adapted and implemented because Uhnder is a semiconductor company which by definition is capital intensive.

Radar which got its start in World War II has traditionally been a capital intensive business, but it has been a business that has saved millions of lives around the world. Building upon the first radar systems which were produced in 1935 by Sir Robert Watson-Watt, Grayson asks Manju how radar has evolved since World War II.

It’s the progress in electronics, because remember in the Second World War, the integrated circuit was not there yet. So that was a huge advance. Then the progress in communications, that’s more recent. I would say that from 1940’s to say the 1990’s, it was a tremendous increase in electronics.

– Manju Hegde

Today, a majority of vehicles on the road have radar. Radar on vehicles increases safety due to their ability to detect objects on the road. The next evolution of radar is 4D Digital Imaging Radar. 4D Digital Imaging Radar has advantages over analog radar such as increased resolution.

The first vehicle that the Uhnder 4D Digital Imaging Radar will be available on will be the Fisker Ocean. Manju goes onto share the following about Henrik Fisker:

He is kind of the like the Frank Lloyd Wright of automotive design.

– Manju Hegde

As the market for 4D Digital Imaging Radar evolves, Manju shares his thoughts on how he sees the market maturing.

Wrapping up the conversation, Manju highlights the benefits of ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance Systems).

We should have better ADAS right now.

– Manju Hegde

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Recorded on Friday, June 17, 2022

Connected Car Ecosystem

Peter Virk, Vice President, IVY Product & Ecosystem, BlackBerry joined Grayson Brulte on The Road To Autonomy Podcast to discuss how the connected car ecosystem is reducing friction and enabling new experiences for both drivers and passengers.

The conversation begins with Peter discussing how his passion for cars first began and the summer holidays he spent repairing vehicles with his Uncle who worked at Ford.

The passion first began with the toy cars that my parents bought me. That is where the obsession started.

– Peter Virk

From playing with toy cars as a child to repairing vehicles in the summer with his Uncle, Peter followed his passion and joined the Rover Group for a 25 year run. With 25 years of experience building and developing new technologies for Range Rovers, Grayson asks Peter how he thinks about the future of mobility.

The future, if we were to really push the boundaries is, it should be, you should not have to think about it. You shouldn’t have to plan. My life, my schedule, will be planned. It’s got to know I have to get on the Eurostar tomorrow, and a vehicle will just turn up for me.

– Peter Virk

The future of mobility is a frictionless experience that is always on-demand and always available. It’s a future that involves a lot less planning and a lot more enjoyment of moving from point A to point B. Connecting the dots and enabling this frictionless future is where the Blackberry IVY platform comes into the picture.

The way that you reduce friction is, you make things happen. You make it easy.

– Peter Virk

As we look into the future, the car of tomorrow will be connected and act as an IoT device which will unlock new features and experiences.

The car of tomorrow with IVY will adapt. It will adapt to you. It will know your preferences. It will change. We’ve got software over-the-air around us now. So there will be new features. There will be ecosystem partners that we can allow to come in and work. These are not new innovations, these are expectations from consumers.

– Peter Virk

These features will be platform agnostic and part of the connected car ecosystem. This ecosystem will be maintained and highly scalable. Consumers will demand that the ecosystem is always up to date and new features are added on a regular basis as they are accustomed to this from their smartphone and connected devices at home.

It’s a term that I have used for many years, the always on, always connected, maybe even always listening and always available. These are foundational pieces that we expect, because that is what we got used to in our lives. Our smartphone may look like the screen is off, but it is actually on. It’s available, it’s listening, it’s giving me alerts when I need them. Why wouldn’t I not expect the same from my vehicle?

– Peter Virk

The consumer expectation is coming to the vehicle and Blackberry IVY is the platform that will enable consumer expectations to be met in the vehicle. Blackberry’s heritage of encryption and security are translated into the IVY platform. It’s a pillar of strength for IVY.

As consumers shift from internal combustion engines to electric vehicles, the health of the battery is starting to become a hot topic. How will the health of the battery be monitored and how will the data be shared and with whom? IVY can solve this problem as it’s a scaleable platform built on encryption and security that developers can develop apps for the ecosystem. A software defined platform is the future.

Wrapping up the conversation, Peter and Grayson discuss how automation can improve the user experience in the vehicle.

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Recorded on Tuesday, June 14, 2022