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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Brightline: The Mobility Experience Company

Patrick Goddard, President of Brightline Trains joined Grayson Brulte on The Road To Autonomy Podcast to discuss how Brightline is building a mobility experience company.

The conversation begins with Patrick discussing how his background in hospitality partly inspired the way Brightline was developed and how it is managed today. Customer service and the emotional connection with the experience are the keys to success in the experience business.

We are first and foremost an experience-focused company.

– Patrick Goddard

Prior to boarding the train, the customer journey begins the moment that individual leaves their home or hotel. You have to think about that journey and look at it through the five senses. Patrick discusses how the five senses create an emotional connection.

Understanding the door to door to experience for a traveler has become more and more important.

– Patrick Goddard

Expanding upon this thought, Patrick dives into the experience economy and how it is now starting to transform the transportation industry. The transportation industry is actively learning from the hospitality and restaurant industries on how to implement and scale meaningful experiences with an emotional connection.

The experiences economy is upon us. It has been upon us for some time.

– Patrick Goddard

Focusing is on the Brightline experience, Patrick discusses in great detail the Brightline experience and how it was designed. From digital infrastructure to physical infrastructure, Brightline has completely thought through every single element of the experience.

Looking to the future, Grayson asks Patrick if Brightline will partner with an autonomous vehicle company to provide a branded Brightline mobility experience destination to destination.

We have to think about transportation as an ecosystem.

– Patrick Goddard

Brightline is actively looking into what those mobility experiences might look like with a variety of non-exclusive partners. These services will be fully integrated into the Brightline experience without friction and without having to make multiple payments to multiple service providers.

As Brightline expands to Orlando / Walt Disney World and adds new stops, Grayson asks Patrick how the Brightline experience will not be diluted. Patrick shares a great example of driving from Miami to Walt Disney World with his family and all of the possible issues including traffic which could make the trip longer and stressful.

When you get on our trains, you stop worrying about the time. It’s not about the time. It’s about the reliability and the experience.

– Patrick Goddard

On the train, you are relaxed, having a drink, or taking a nap. You arrive at the destination calm and ready to have fun at Walt Disney World.

Connecting Miami to Orlando with Brightline will have a positive impact on Florida’s economy. Grayson shares data from a previous podcast with Dr. Jerry Parrish, Chief Economist and Director of Research, Florida Chamber Foundation about how tourism dollars will be spent when tourists have a frictionless way to travel to different parts of the State.

Looking back in history, Patrick discusses the history of Henry Flagler’s Florida East Coast Railway and how Brightline is building upon that history. The Florida East Coast Railway was built to support Flagler’s hotel operations. Brightline is following a similar model by developing the land around the stations.

Wrapping up the conversation, Patrick discusses the future of Brightline and why Brightline is a mobility experience company.

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Recorded on Thursday, April 8, 2021.

The Future of Parking: Integrated Payments & Mobility Hubs

Neil Golson, Executive Vice President of Marketing and Strategic Partnerships, FLASH joined Grayson Brulte on The Road To Autonomy Podcast to discuss how software and partnerships are enabling the future of parking —integrated payments and mobility hubs.

The conversation begins with Neil sharing his insight into the current state of the parking business. While parking demand is still down 65% pre-COVID, the industry is beginning to rebound as consumers begin to travel again.

FLASH has an interesting insight into the parking industry as they do not own the asset, they are the software layer that enables parking operators to efficiently manage their facilities.

Our role is to enable [parking operators] and to drive their technology so that they can differentiate their own asset.

– Neil Golson

One of the neat ways FLASH is enabling parking operators to create new sources of revenue is their digital wallet offering that integrates services such as Ticketmaster and OpenTable. This eliminates friction for parking customers and simplifies the transaction.

Another way, FLASH is eliminating friction is by re-thinking having a redundant system in place for when the tickets run out at a parking kiosk. FLASH’s system automatically switches to another mode such as scanning your license plate or using your credit card as a ticket.

This all boils down to what is the best customer experience and what can we do to enhance the customer experience. Neil goes onto explain the ways that FLASH is constantly working to improve the parking experience and ways to increase revenue for parking operators.

Our system can change on a dime.

– Neil Golson

With a flexible system, customers benefit as FLASH can remotely change lane directions to ensure individuals can get into the game faster and exit faster with dynamic lanes. Grayson asks Neil, what’s the next step in improving the customer experience. Neil goes onto explain how FLASH is working with Target to integrate a parking and charging experience which is tied to purchases.

One of the keys to building out mobility hubs is partnerships. One of the partnerships that FLASH has is with EVBox. Grayson asks Neil about the partnership and why FLASH ultimately decided to partner with EVBox.

EVBox really saw the opportunity to separate hardware from software.

– Neil Golson

Ultimately it was EVBox’s open-architecture platform that sealed the deal as FLASH could customize the software for their customers. With FLASH actively preparing for a future with electric vehicles, Grayson goes onto to ask Neil how the company is actively preparing for a future with autonomous vehicles.

The company is actively preparing for an autonomous future by fully understanding the asset down to the curb, the size of the parking space, and how the vehicles will pay to park.

We power the Porsche app. Porsche only wanted to put parking spaces that were of a certain width to make sure that Porsche drivers didn’t get dinged.

– Neil Golson

This approach creates value for the Porsche brand as Porsche customers do not have to worry about parking in a space that is too close to another car.

In Las Vegas, FLASH has a partnership with the City of Las Vegas to allow Uber drivers to park in a staging area while waiting for a ride. Looking to the future, Grayson asks Neil if FLASH is using the data from this partnership to model for a future with autonomous vehicles.

Rounding out the mobility hub strategy, FLASH has a partnership with SwiftMile to solve the clutter issue with scooters laying around parking assets.

Wrapping up the conversation, Grayson and Neil discuss parking infrastructure assets and what happens when individuals begin to travel in large numbers again.

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Recorded on Thursday, April 1 2021.

Cyber Intelligence

Bryan Hurd, Vice President, Chief of Office, Aon Cyber Solutions (Stroz Friedberg) joined Grayson Brulte on The Road To Autonomy Podcast to discuss the current state of cybersecurity and why cyber intelligence is critically important for Governments and Publicly Traded Companies.

The conversation begins with Bryan discussing the founding of the U.S. Navy’s First Cyber-Counterintelligence Program at Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS). Expanding upon the founding of the program, Bryan goes onto discuss Cliff Stoll, “Hanover hackers” and nation-state cyber attacks.

Then there is the emerging threat of the non-nation state of hackers which are having an impact on society.

Popular culture makes it cool to be a hacker.

– Bryan Hurd

Grayson asks Bryan what assets hackers are looking to steal and compromise. International organized crime is focused on ransomware and IP Theft, while nation-state hackers are focused on gathering intel and plans on how the military develops planes and sensitive military assets.

The dwell times for these bad actors vary depending on the sophistication of the organization and what they are looking to achieve. At times international organized crime will gather all of the data they want, then lock the data and demand a ransom that is paid in crypto coin.

Ransomware is a clear and present danger to the United States.

– Bryan Hurd

With ransom being paid in crypto coin, Grayson and Bryan go onto discuss the potential regulation of Bitcoin and the impact it would have on the market if a “know your customer” regulation would be put into place. Shifting the conversation to transportation, Bryan discusses the founding of the No Fly List and how it was developed using machine learning.

As society beings to shift towards electric vehicles, Grayson asks Bryan why there is not a larger conversation taking place on how you secure the energy grid from a potential cyber attack. Securing the energy grid is critically important as millions of consumers begin to drive charge their electric vehicles.

Securing intellectual property (IP) for large knowledge-based companies is also critical as the valuations of those companies are partly based on their IP portfolios. Using the Waymo vs. Uber lawsuit as an example, Grayson brings up Exhibit 22 from the trial as an example of why cyber intelligence and on-the-ground intelligence is critically important for companies developing new technologies.

If your entire company’s net worth is based on intellectual property (IP), a formula for a soft drink, a vaccine formulation, or intellectual property on how to make the next driverless automobile, then that is information that needs to be protected from an IT and tagging/data loss prevention and employee contracts for the level that is appropriate to your company.

– Bryan Hurd

This raises the question of how connected should the Board of Directors be to the industry of the company of the board that they are sitting on?

Just the right bit of intel at the right time can either save you billions in research and development or get you there faster than the people who actually founded it.

– Bryan Hurd

Looking at the current state of the world and events shaping the global economy, Grayson asks if bad actors are looking at the economic and supply-chain damage that the Ever Given container ship caused when it blocked the Suez Canal as an idea for a possible cyber attack. What if cyber terrorists could take control of container ships to cause economic harm globally?

Bryan talks about the current state of cyber terrorism, what bad actors are targeting and what the response could look like in the future. As society becomes more and more connected, it will be inherently important for companies to build trust around their products and services.

Trust is not only to the brand. It is to the uptick of any new technology or service. Spending a little bit more at the beginning to ensure that trust has a good foundation is going to be a more central discussion.

– Bryan Hurd

Wrapping up the conversation, Bryan discusses what we can do as a society to stay pro-active and why cyber intelligence will continue to be top of mind for Government, companies and individuals.

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Recorded on Tuesday April 6, 2021.

EVBox: Strategically Scaling Electric Vehicle Charging

Jeremy Bezdek, Managing Director, Strategic Platforms, Koch Industries (KSP), and Kristof Vereenooghe, CEO of EVBox Group join Grayson Brulte on The Road To Autonomy Podcast to discuss scaling electric vehicle charging globally through strategic partnerships.

The conversation begins with Jeremy sharing a high-level overview of Koch Strategic Platforms and the company’s mandate.

Koch Strategic Platforms mandate is to look for companies to invest in tail-wind industries and companies looking for growth equity. Either as public companies or late-stage private companies, maybe soon to be public companies. We invest in key verticals, specifically industry 4.0, connectivity, healthcare technology, and energy transformation.

– Jeremy Bezdek

Taking a look at the EV charging industry, Kristof discusses fragmented markets and how EVBox’s market share in Europe combined with their open-architecture platform gives the company a strategic advantage.

We are headquartered in what I call the Silicon Valley of EV charging.

– Kristof Vereenooghe

As EVBox begins to scale in the United States, Koch Strategic Platforms is actively collaborating with EVBox to assist the company with scaling the business in the U.S. In addition to the strategic capital relationship with Koch Strategic Platforms, EVBox has a partnership with TPG.

With the partnership with TPG and going public, it will give us the capital and the resources to scale. Most importantly, many competitors in the U.S. are closed systems and do not provide the same benefits as EVBox. There is a real need for our model and our software here in the U.S. market.

– Kristof Vereenooghe

Koch’s has a long-term relationship with TPG. It is through this relationship that Koch first developed a relationship with EVBox, and later invested.

With their footprint, their European leadership position, and quite frankly our energy transformation vertical it made sense. It was a perfect fit for what we were looking for. With the vision that Kristof had to do a U.S. rollout, we felt that our capability could be applied to help them. It was a perfect fit for us to invest.

– Jeremy Bezdek

Shifting the conversation to strategy, Grayson asks Kristof to discuss the EVBox strategy and the company’s relationship with three out of the four largest European automakers. EVBox’s competitive advantage is the company’s open-architecture platform.

With the competitive advantage of the open-architecture platform secured, EVBox is focused on developing a world-class brand that will have a positive impact on society.

We are planting a tree for every charging station that we ship.

– Kristof Vereenooghe

Operating in over 70 countries presents opportunities and challenges. The brand has to be adapted to local customs, habits, and languages. Today, EVBox software is running software in over 21 languages.

With Koch being a global company with over 130,000 employees there are a lot of opportunities inside of Koch Industries. Jeremy goes onto to explain how Koch Industries and EVBox are collaborating on opportunities from installing charging stations to helping with the supply chain for materials.

Wrapping up the conversation, Jeremy and Kristof explain the opportunity for electrifying fleets.

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Recorded on Thursday, March 18, 2021.

Augmented Reality: Window To The World

Chen-Ping Yu, Co-Founder & CEO, Phiar joins Grayson Brulte on The Road To Autonomy Podcast to discuss why augmented reality is the window to the world.

The conversation begins with Chen-Ping discussing his time at Stony Brook University followed by Harvard. At Harvard, Chen-Ping was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Cognitive and Neural Lab where he studied the brain.

I had the pleasure to work with a group of cognitive and neural scientists to combine what they have learned about the brain with deep-learning computer vision.

– Chen-Ping Yu

It was during his time driving in Boston, that Chen-Ping had an “ah-ha” moment that would lead to the founding of Phiar.

Why couldn’t someone show me my route by overlaying that to the actual camera feed instead of drawing it on a map?

– Chen-Ping Yu

Since no one was doing it, Chen-Ping decided to go for it and solve the problem that he experienced driving in Boston. He set out to build AR navigation.

Phiar was founded in 2017 when VR (virtual reality) was dominating headlines and film studios were building labs to better understand the technology. Consumers were associating Google Glass with AR (augmented reality) leading to a general misunderstanding in the marketplace about what is AR.

Today, a lot has changed. Studios are no longer investing in VR (virtual reality) and companies such as Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google are all rumored to be working on AR products.

Chen-Ping goes onto share his thoughts on the current state of AR and why software combined with hardware is the path forward.

AR is absolutely exciting.

– Chen-Ping Yu

With a clear understanding of software integrated with hardware being the path forward, Chen-Ping decided to focus on the automotive market. Software integrated with hardware is the Apple model.

Grayson asks Chen-Ping what his thoughts are on a possible AR automotive services business for Apple.

People are looking at automotive vehicles as the next big platform for software. Even automotive players are trying to redesign and upgrade their whole architecture into a more software-driven [approach].

– Chen-Ping Yu

Looking to the future, Grayson asks Chen-Ping if Phiar will stay platform-agnostic and what his thoughts are on a potential Phiar App Store. It is possible, but only time will tell.

Shifting the conversation back to services, Grayson talks about why Airbnb will be one of the biggest benefactors of augmented reality in vehicles. In a post-COVID world, there will be a huge demand for experiences. AR will be able to unlock digital experiences that are not possible today. This will create massive new revenue opportunities for companies such as Airbnb.

Wrapping up the conversation, Chen-Ping and Grayson discuss how to make an augmented reality map without pre-mapping and the role that AI plays in enabling AR.

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Recorded on Friday, March 12, 2021.