Self-driving vehicles should deliver more than transportation. They should deliver experiences.
That's the belief of Grayson Brulte, an innovation strategist and co- founder of Brulte & Co., a mobility advisory company based in Palm Beach, Fla. Rather than no-frills robotaxi service, he believes purveyors of autonomous technology should instead focus on providing premium experiences.
Imagine reserving a vehicle at a hotel and being carried through a Napa Valley winery tour — no designated driver needed. Or imagine taking a self-driving vehicle to a ballgame where the tailgating happens on board.
"Self-driving technology should enhance the experience — that's the Holy Grail," he said. "You make the transportation not boring. You make it one of the most interesting parts."
Such journeys were on Brulte's mind recently when the National Park Service unveiled a first-of-its-kind partnership with Beep, a mobility operator, in which autonomous shuttles will be deployed to carry visitors in Yellowstone National Park next spring.
At least for now, the pilot project is strictly about transportation: Two autonomous shuttle buses will trundle around the Canyon Village base area, helping to alleviate congestion while connecting parking areas with popular amenities. Operationally, these likely will be some of the first experiences members of the public have with self-driving technology.
It's not difficult to consider how the National Park Service could utilize such shuttles in the future.
"You take your family out, and the vehicle itself is teaching you about Old Faithful or buffalo or the history of Teddy Roosevelt in the park," Brulte suggests. "The vehicle becomes a mobile classroom. Think about the potential of that. You are bringing the classroom to nature. That changes the game."