Tyler Suiters                      

Hey, everybody. We're the Consumer Technology Association. I'm Tyler Suiters. We are the owners and the producers of CES, the world's largest, most influential tech event. We are here to help you get CES ready. The next show is January 7th through the 10th, 2020, in Las Vegas as always. Today, we're talking about vehicle technology, a key area at CES. The show features the world's leading auto manufacturers, self-driving demos, smart mobility solutions, and so much more. But today our focus around vehicle tech isn't just on the auto companies that are wowing us with technology that's already on the road, coming to the road soon, or even some of the concept vehicles we see.

Tyler Suiters                      

Today, we're going off the road and onto the farm. And also onto the water, if you can believe that. Two companies that are relatively new to exhibiting at CES, one is Brunswick Corporation. 175 years old. Think of that name, Brunswick. It goes back to billiards and bowling, but now this is a marine transportation company. Boating. But it's also an innovation and technology company.

Tyler Suiters                      

Alongside Brunswick today, we're talking to John Deere, who's coming up on its second year exhibiting at CES. Remember last year's eye-catching self-driving farm equipment display? Well, John Deere is a company that is more than 180 years old, but another example of what you think of as an agriculture company that is really overall a technology company now at its heart.

Tyler Suiters                      

Today, a conversation about vehicle technology in its many forms and also venues on CES Tech Talk. Joining us now from John Deere's intelligent solutions group is Dr. Julian Sanchez. He is director of precision agriculture and business development. But I can shorten that, Julian, to say you've got to have one of the coolest jobs in the... I'd say in the building, but the multiple buildings at John Deere. This is a remarkable sector for the company.

Julian Sanchez                  

It really is. It's the sector that has grown the most within the company in the last 10 years. For sure, I have one of the coolest jobs in the company. But I can tell you, there are others that work in my sector that would want to compete with me for that title of the coolest job. There are plenty of very cool jobs at Deere right now.

Tyler Suiters                      

John Deere debuted at CES at the 2019 show. In talking with folks from your company beforehand, Julian, one of the interesting aspects to me was the fact that what seems to, perhaps other sectors, to be a big splash for a company like John Deere in the self-driving or connected tech sectors is something that John Deere has actually been doing for more than a decade now. This is not new for you all as an innovation strategy or a company growth strategy, correct?

Julian Sanchez                  

Yeah, that's correct. If you go back to the early 2000s, 2002, we released our first self-driving technology to market. We've continued to help farmers adopt those capabilities for nearly the last two decades. Then really the last eight years or so, we've also been at the forefront of connectivity in agriculture. And that is where all agricultural vehicles that are out there now doing important jobs are streaming data, agronomic data and machine data, in real time. The coolest thing about all this stuff is that... There's that old adage of “Necessity is the mother of invention.” For as long as we remember, farmers have been demanding these types of technologies.

Julian Sanchez                  

They're trying to do more with less. They're trying to farm better. They're trying to farm more effectively. The self-driving aspect of that, as well as the connectivity over the last couple of decades have been outcomes of farmers, again, demanding these types of technologies to allow them to farm and do their jobs better.

Tyler Suiters                      

Pulling out part of your title, Julian, precision agriculture. I think it's to some degree clear how self-driving vehicles can adapt and advance that approach. What about connectivity, and also AI, in terms of the roles they play for precision agriculture and what John Deere has going on small- and large-scale farms across the country right now?

Julian Sanchez                  

Yeah. Let me actually just emphasize that term first, precision agriculture, because it really will help me explain why connectivity and AI are so important. The way I think about it, it's very simple. If a farmer could spend 100 percent of their energy and effort and time caring for one plant in their farm, that's as precise as it could get, right? Even if they're farming 5,000, 10,000 acres, if they could spend a whole year just worried about that one plant with the most level of precision, it'd be safe making a good bet that that plant would be very healthy and would just have amazing outputs in terms of yield.

Julian Sanchez                  

The essence of precision agriculture as a term is how do we enable a farmer to do that, to care for each individual plant, at scale, right? Across several thousand or several hundred acres. That's what we're really after, both farmers and companies like John Deere, is to unlock the value there of being able to farm that way. Connectivity is a key element of enabling that because we now can basically document what is happening to each plant in real time as jobs are being done in the field with either a planter which is laying the seed down in very specific spots. Or as we're applying nutrients for the plant, we can document exactly what nutrients each plant received and when and in under what conditions.

Julian Sanchez                  

That connectivity allows the farmer to get a sense of what is happening in their farm with that level of precision in real time. You've gone from as a farmer being able to make decisions maybe at the end of the season to essentially being able to make decisions in real time that could result in an adjustment in a practice that has a significant impact on the yield of their crops. That's the connectivity part.

Julian Sanchez                  

The artificial intelligence aspect of this is, I always like to describe farming as, if we talked about it in mathematical terms, it's like trying to balance a seven or eight or sometimes 10 variable equation. And some of the variables are unknown variables. It's a very difficult thing where you're basically almost chasing a moving target. Because there's so much variability within farming, including of course mother nature, right?

Tyler Suiters                      

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Julian Sanchez                  

Even though we have good weather prediction tools now, weather is always changing and farmers are always sort of trying to chase that moving target with weather. The value of artificial intelligence in agriculture is that we now have a tool or a set of tools that allow us to better deal with that variance and give the farmer better ability to predict. And have intelligence on the farm that helps them kind of narrow that cone of variance they're dealing with and make much more informed prediction.

Tyler Suiters                      

The crop yield is an excellent point. To carry out your example, Julian, of a single plant getting very specific, individualized, tailored attention. How does that then take the other side of the equation, if you will, and that is doing it at scale and increasing the efficiency of high yield production? Being able to micromanage not a single stalk of corn, but acres upon acres upon acres of those.

Julian Sanchez                  

Yeah, correct. It's this really, really interesting balance between having lots and lots of data. In some ways, many farmers have become data analysts or data specialists and experts in geospatial concepts because the connectivity and the ability to document what is happening with each plant at such a granular level has enabled them to think about how to care for each plant. At the same time, the balance of that area of managing that very, very spatial granular data is we also then have to provide farmers with machinery that is able to execute at that level of precision. But do so faster and with the same amount of accuracy and productivity than ever before, right?

Tyler Suiters                      

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Julian Sanchez                  

One interesting example there is there's a planter technology called ExactEmerge. And it uses electric motors to, as a planter is going through the field and putting each seed on the ground, it allows the planter to put each seed with extreme level of precision. It's almost like trying to hit basically a target the size of a quarter while moving through the field at 10 miles per hour. That type of technology is just coming to the market over the last few years.

Julian Sanchez                  

A few years ago, the fastest a farmer could travel through the field would be about five miles per hour. Now they can do it at 10 miles per hour with the same level of precision. There's similar examples in the application space. Applying nutrients. There's a technology called ExactApply, which in a sprayer that has a boom of a width of 120 feet, end to end, you can control every single little nozzle in that sprayer to hit exactly the precise spots in the field that need nutrition. Again, it's basically leveraging the data to understand what needs to be done with that level of precision, but providing the farmer with more productive technology, more productive machines that are able to execute that job at scale.

Tyler Suiters                      

Let's get into the wheelhouse now, Julian, of John Deere as many of us think about it. That is the manufacturing. The product, the tangible vehicles that you all are turning out. Maybe the most eye-catching display at CES 2019, and certainly, to rephrase that, one of the largest products we've ever seen at CES, was an example of your self-driving farming equipment. How is that evolving even in just the last year in terms of use, efficiency, and what lies ahead in the next five or 10 years?

Julian Sanchez                  

It continues to evolve rapidly. So even just in the last year we released a product to market that doesn't just help the farmers steer very precise, straight line, but it's able to execute turns at the edges of the field. So that you turned around and then come back. And it does all of that automatically. Just spoke to a farmer about a month ago in North Dakota that said, "Hey, just planted a 400-acre field and never once to touched the steering wheel of my tractor."

Julian Sanchez                  

So we continue to push the envelope there in that self-driving capability. We're also really, really, really focused right now on helping farmers automate the job, the job of farming. So again, there is the steering aspect of it, which is very important. But just as important and in some cases much more important, the farmer wants to know that the job that is being done by the machine... Nobody goes tractoring in a field. People go farming. So the job that is being done by the machine is extremely precise and extremely well done. We are excited to be back at CES this year to highlight all of the technologies that we're implementing to help farmers continue to do that.

Julian Sanchez                  

In addition to the self-driving, we're going to have a couple of farmers actually at the booth with us. We thought it was important to continue to share the message with the tech community of why agriculture is such an important domain for technology. So again, our farmers are going to be there telling that story with us and side by side highlighting the latest technologies that are helping all of this move ahead. So yeah, please come by and see us at CES. I promise you, it will be, again, one of the best if not the best booth in the show, hopefully.

Tyler Suiters                      

Keeping expectations low there, Julian, of course. You have an interesting perspective on the show in that you are a CES veteran, certainly. But you have not always attended the show and viewed displays and engagements through the lens of John Deere. You've been with other companies in attendance. What's the value now you see for John Deere in this marketplace, with these connections, with this particular audience?

Julian Sanchez                  

Yeah, we are a technology company. And so for us, when we look at CES, that is the technology show globally. And so we've realized that as a technology company, we simply just have to participate in the narrative. And so from one perspective, we feel it's critical to go tell the story of agriculture to the rest of the tech community. Some of it is unknown and the complexities and the interesting problems that exist in agriculture to be solved are unknown or not well known to the rest of the tech community. So we're there to do that.

Julian Sanchez                  

And then we're there also to engage with the rest of the tech community. Last year, just being at the booth most of the week, it was incredibly valuable for myself and for all of those of us from John Deere to engage with all of the other tech companies and share ideas right then and there about how we can continue to improve technology in this very important sector.

Tyler Suiters                      

All right, last question, Julian. Quick aside. What is the other aspect to the show that you might be able to sneak off and check out? I assume you're going straight for the vehicle technology sector and self-driving, but maybe I'm projecting this on you too much.

Julian Sanchez                  

Yeah, so certainly always go there. I actually spend a lot of time myself going and looking for any and all technologies that are called sensor technologies. So anybody doing a work with cameras, even if they're not applying it to automotive, even if it's just for entertainment and taking videos. I feel like tracking that industry and that space always provides me personally with a lot of valuable insights about where the broader space of sensor technology is headed. So last year, yep, went and checked out all the 360 cameras. Thought that was kind of an interesting emerging trend last year. I'm looking forward to seeing if it's progressed or if it's about the same this year.

Tyler Suiters                      

Yeah, scouting secrets from a CES veteran. Dr. Julian Sanchez is Director of Precision Agriculture and Business Development at John Deere's Intelligence Solutions Group. And Julian, great conversation. Let's pick it up again in Las Vegas in January. What do you say?

Julian Sanchez                  

Let's do it. Look forward to it.

Tyler Suiters                      

With us now is Dave Foulkes. He is CEO of Brunswick Corporation. Yes, in the past, it was a bowling and billiards company. But now so much more. And Dave, first of all, thank you for joining us. And second of all, is it fair to call Brunswick a transportation company now?

David Foulkes                   

Yeah. I think we are in, we're in recreational boating. And that's part of I guess mobility, transportation, certainly. Absolutely.

Tyler Suiters                      

What is it about technology today that is driving your sector, your recreational boating sector, to use that semiformal term? What are the techs that really have you excited about where this is propelling your company and your industry? Both literally and figuratively, I suppose.

David Foulkes                   

No, that's right. I think a lot of the trends that you see across other verticals are manifesting themselves in our business and generally in our industry. So, we like the ACES acronym—autonomy, connectivity, electrification and shared access. Because I think it certainly captures the vectors of development in our industry as well as in others. So for us, as a recreational boating business, autonomy for us is less about disengaging the driver and more about engaging them in a way that makes boating somewhat more intuitive. For us operating the boat is part of the experience and not something you want to be disengaged from. But there are elements of boating, like docking, that are more stressful than others.

David Foulkes                   

I mean we've been progressing along a path of introducing things like joystick control of boats, GPS station keeping, autopilot. And we recently demonstrated self-docking. So autonomy plays a big role in us space. It's a very real part of bringing people into the industry and making boating more accessible and intuitive.

Tyler Suiters                      

To what extent, Dave, I'm sorry, if we could stick on autonomy for a second and the self-driving aspect, when you look at the auto sector for example, and discuss self-driving technology, safety is such a major factor. Maybe the number one driver or identifier in terms of the need for this technology on a widespread scale. To what extent is safety an element in recreational boating and Brunswick's priority list?

David Foulkes                   

Yeah, it's a huge element of our approach in our development. Safety, broadly, of course. But in terms of close quarter maneuvering of a boat, obviously the easier that we can make that, the less likely there are to be boat to object collisions. So that's a significant piece of development for us. And we're already well along the path towards making things like docking easier.

David Foulkes                   

But then open water collision avoidance is certainly a big opportunity for us. You think about the marine environment compared with the automotive environment, first of all, a boat has six degrees of freedom versus the kind of two in a car. And we have a much less structured environment. So not so many road signs and lane markings and parking space markings. So there's a lot of opportunity for interpretation in the industry. And those are the situations where we can use technology and connectivity to make life somewhat easier for the boaters.

Tyler Suiters                      

Well that's a great touch point to delve into connectivity. The C in your ACES, A-C-E-S strategy at Brunswick. Because once you get into broad connectivity, then you're talking about a network, not just of the vehicles themselves but infrastructure, etc. Where does that start and how far out does that go in your mind, Dave?

David Foulkes                   

All of our larger boats, 25 feet and above, now go out as connected products, if you like. So it's not an option. It's part of what you get when you buy one of the boats. And so connectivity for... A lot of our boats are kept away from the owner. So at a marina for example. Where connectivity helps by allowing you to remotely monitor the health of the boat, the condition of the boat, even geo-fence your boat so that you can be sure exactly where it is.

David Foulkes                   

So every boat that we sell about 25 feet comes with an app that allows you to monitor every system on the boat remotely and has GPS, etc. Beyond that, though, with the owner's permission, the boat will connect itself to its nearest dealer. And in that process, the dealer is able to, or the boat is able to share with the dealer a kind of diagnostics, prognostics on the system. Boats, especially large boats, are fairly complicated. They have multiple engines often. They have a lot of onboard systems, electrical controls, motor management, those kinds of things. A lot of electronics. So it's important that we make dealers and their technicians as effective as possible by allowing them the best diagnostic information prior to their engaging with a customer on a boat.

Tyler Suiters                      

I've heard it said, Dave, that your products are essentially, well I shouldn't say essentially, but are to some extent floating digital displays. So technology is inherent into the products you're making and putting on the water in and of itself, correct?

David Foulkes                   

Yeah, absolutely. I think if you have the chance to experience a modern boat, you will find a cross between an aircraft and a house if you like. There's multiple digital displays. It includes radar, sonar, and chart plotting with very sophisticated electronic control of all the engines. With GPS station keeping that allows you to hold a boat stationary in the presence of wind and current. Of course, unlike in a car, if you take your hands off the throttle and the wheel of a boat, it doesn't stay still, typically. It moves. So we have to have active control to keep the boat stationary.

David Foulkes                   

And then almost all of these boats have some form of autopilot on board that allows you to undertake longer distances in some kind of prescribed way. So they are very contemporary and sophisticated devices. And our objective is to make them as integrated and intuitive to the operators as we possibly can.

Tyler Suiters                      

Mm-hmm (affirmative). We've referenced the auto sector a number of times already, Dave. And you have a deep experience in, in that area of the economy. 20 plus years, including time at Ford. You know it well. And I have to assume that's part of the impetus, your experience with the auto sector, that drives the E in your ACES strategy, right? The electrification. Something we hear about at a fleet level broadly on automobiles. This is a bit new, it seems, in the recreational boating sector.

David Foulkes                   

Yeah. I think there are a couple of aspects of electrification, if you like, in marine that are particularly interesting. One of the differences between marine and automotive is that most reasonable-sized boats consume a lot of power. Obviously moving through the water consumes a lot more energy than moving through air. And boats don't have brakes. So you can't recover the energy as readily as you can in a car. So electrification of propulsion is, the physics are just more difficult. So electrification of propulsion is progressing into the industry, but only right now I would say somewhat on the edges with small boats, small distances, well-understood [inaudible 00:26:26] cycles.

David Foulkes                   

For larger boats, a lot of the electrification is really in the other subsystems beyond propulsion. So a lot of larger boats will have an onboard generator, another internal combustion engine that generates power for the boat. And the opportunity we have there is to use modern battery technology and switching systems to replace that generator with a much more integrated, high capacity energy storage system. And we actually have marine battery technology companies within Brunswick that are working towards that objective.

Tyler Suiters      

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Your final point in the strategy is shared access. And you touched on mobility earlier. This is a multipronged approach. What direction do you see this going in or are you driving toward, Dave?

David Foulkes                   

Well, the way that shared access is manifesting itself really is in recreational marine. There's a couple of models. Peer to peer is not quite so straightforward. And of course, for us, you know, unlike mobility in automotive, which is really about getting from A to B, that is not a primary objective for us. Our objective is to get people on the water and enjoying their experience. So some interesting statistics, there were about 10 million registered recreational boats in the US. But about 140 million people in the US have some kind of boating experience every year.

David Foulkes                   

So if you think about those two numbers, obviously the 140 million people are not boating always on their own boats. It's a family boat, it's a friend's boat, it's a rental boat, it's a club boat. And what we are particularly working on right now is boat clubs. And those boat clubs, for member fees, allow people to not own a boat but access a diverse fleet of boats on a kind of a membership basis.

David Foulkes                   

So we own a boat club called Freedom Boat Club, which is the largest boat club anywhere in the world, in fact. In the US, there are about 200 locations. People pay membership fees and then the boat is available to them any time. They reserve it on an app. It's ready when they arrive. It's cleaned when they depart. And they have the boating experience and the convenience of that without necessarily going through the process of ownership.

David Foulkes                   

We also provide boats into rental organizations. So rental and club are the shared access models that are kind of in the ascendancy, I would say, in the marine industry versus more of the peer to peer activity that's present in some other verticals. But really any way to get a younger generation into boating and to even capture people when they've owned a boat and maybe for various reasons no longer can, keeping them in the boat in the lifestyle is really important to us. So capturing the younger generation and then capture people potentially exiting boating.

David Foulkes                   

It's very rare that somebody comes off the street and buys a boat. They usually buy a boat because they've had a great boating experience. And that's what we plan to provide. To encourage them into membership and potentially into ownership.

Tyler Suiters                      

Mm-hmm (affirmative). So ticking these off across four fingers now, autonomy, or self-driving capability, connectivity, electrification, shared access/mobility. How do you focus all of that into Brunswick's presence at CES 2020? You've been to the show a number of times and I know you've seen a number of the major auto companies focus like that. What's your approach for the upcoming show?

David Foulkes                   

Well, I think, our approach first of all is I think we have an advantage here. I think seeing our products in the main hall will be a little bit of a surprise to people. They're impressive. They're exciting. I think there's something about a, I'm not giving too much away, about boats that's, it's exciting. It's exciting to people. So we'll be showing our products. And you'll see a very contemporary product, in fact a product that we have not shown before in the form that it will be shown at CES.

David Foulkes                   

It'll contain all of the technologies that I've just described around electrification and connectivity. And some of those wonderful huge displays that you referenced earlier that include radar and chart plotting and sonar and all the things. But you will also see a boat that provides a very contemporary experience. Whether it's something that you can share with your friends and family. A boat that will take a lot of people out. Will provide you with an adventure for the day.

David Foulkes                   

Besides that, we will be showing some of our other technologies that are evolving. And so you will see what the next generation of boat might look like and what's some of the technologies might be on board there. And of course we'll be showcasing some of the shared access models that I described earlier. But you will see, I think, a truly exciting display. Very dynamic, great product. But also a nice glimpse into the future of boating.

Tyler Suiters                      

Mm-hmm (affirmative). I'm sorry to ask this while we're on the record, Dave, but 20 plus years or so at Ford. Brunswick currently has partnerships with BMW Design Works and AMG. Will you find a little bit of time to sneak over and check out the major auto exhibits at CES while you're in town?

David Foulkes                   

I always do. It's so exciting for me to... CES, I think, is such a wonderful event because it's about the components of technology, the systems of technology, and it's also about the applications of technology. And you can find individual systems that interests you. I'm always interested in AR, VR, and object identification and those kinds of things. But I'm tremendously interested as well in how people are integrating them in something that adds value to the consumer. And that, how people doing that in the automotive industry provides tremendous insight into how we might move forward in marine.

Tyler Suiters                      

Dave Foulkes is the CEO of Brunswick Corporation. Not just a boating company or a recreational marine company, an innovation and technology company as well. Dave, a pleasure to talk to a CES veteran, and a visionary as well. Can't wait to see y'all pull back the curtain at CES 2020.

David Foulkes                   

I am so excited. I am so excited. That was a wonderful call. Thank you so much for your time. I'm just tremendously excited about the opportunity.

Tyler Suiters                      

And coming up next time on CES Tech Talk, the topic of digital health. Now, CES is the only venue where the entire digital health ecosystem comes together in a single place. We're talking about remote monitoring products, wearables, diagnostic solutions, these breakthrough technologies that are helping us be healthier and to better informed not just us being the patients but also our doctors and caregivers. A deep dive on digital health. That's all next time on CES Tech Talk.

Tyler Suiters                      

Now we want you to be CES ready, of course. So be sure to subscribe to the CES Tech Talk podcast. It's easy to do. And that way you won't miss a single episode as you're gearing up for the 2020 show in January. Speaking of, CES 2020 is January 7th through the 10th in Las Vegas. The information you need to prep up is ces.tech. As always, none of this would be possible without our true stars, our executive producer Tina Anthony and our senior studio engineer John Lindsey. You all are the very best in the business. I'm Tyler Suiters. Let's talk tech again soon.

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