TAMID at Tufts hosts Michael Granoff for lecture on autonomous vehicles, electric energy

Michael Granoff (LA '91), founder of Maniv Investments, speaks about clean energy, autonomous vehicles and the venture capital world at TAMID at Tufts' event 'The Fourth Industrial Revolution.' Courtesy Alexis Serino for TAMID at Tufts
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At an event hosted by TAMID at Tufts yesterday evening, Michael Granoff (LA ’91), founder of Maniv Mobility, presented a vision of the future that featured autonomous vehicles and clean energy with Israel playing a key role. According to the TAMID at Tufts website, TAMID is a student-led consulting group that “offers programming for business-minded students through the lens of the Israeli economy.” According to TAMID co-President Isaac Herman, a sophomore, the event was organized by co-President David Shepard, Director of Marketing Madison Dall and Director of Operations Spencer Zeff, all sophomores.

TAMID leaders and University President Anthony Monaco opened the event and introduced Granoff. Granoff began by describing his journey to electric energy and autonomous vehicles.

“I’ve been involved in the investment world and the technology world kind of in tandem … I kept coming back to the topic of technology and national security,” Granoff said.

He described his discovery that oil, the “lifeblood of the global economy,” was a tool that had harmful impacts when used by some non-democratic countries. Through a friend, he realized that in the United States, opinions on oil were split between two main groups.

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“It’s a standoff between environmentalists and industrialists,” Granoff recalled being told.

Granoff continued by explaining his past predictions. In 2006, he determined that the future was based in electric technology. He met with two other entrepreneurs, Shai Agassi and Elon Musk, who each had very different ideas for the future. He described working with Agassi to develop a large-scale provider for electric cars and related services, an idea which failed but gave him his first experience working with electric vehicles.

In 2013, Granoff began to see the problem of gas and electric energy in a new way. He described four main components at work: gas, electric energy, mobility services and automation.

“I saw the 2D problem [of gas and electricity] as a 4D problem,” he said, emphasizing the impact of the ride-sharing company Uber and the self-driving car company Waymo.

He said his vision for today’s generation also changed.

“The real headline for this generation will be that we went from manual to automated,” Granoff said.

Granoff explained that electric is becoming increasingly inexpensive.

“The electric mile is demonstrably less expensive than a gas mile,” he said.

He stated that one obstacle to acceptance of autonomous vehicles will be consumers themselves. People often fail to analyze their own decisions clearly, Granoff noted. Yet he said he believes that despite this, it is possible to save both lives and time with fully electric vehicles. Granoff cited vehicle-to-vehicle communication and air updates in Israel.

According to Granoff, when he met a student in Israel who wanted to develop the first fully automated transport system there, he began to become more closely involved in autonomous vehicles. The interested investors who followed the idea led the project into venture capitalist territory. Seeing this system implemented globally is still far off though, Granoff noted.

Granoff introduced the idea of “new mobility,” coined by Intel, which describes the relationship that the younger generations have with transportation.

“We’re really at the beginning of this revolution. We’re at the precipice of a major disruption [where] people are finding they don’t need to drive and have all of the burdens of car ownership to have mobility,” he said. “[People] are already seeing the power of mobility as a service and I think they will see more and more, as automation comes on, that it’s a convenient cost-reducer.”

He predicted what people can expect to see in the coming years in the transportation industry.

“I expect a cyclical decrease in cars but an increase in miles … [and] a steep decline in the cost of transportation,” Granoff said.

While the changes he expects are significant, Granoff views them as positive.

“Technology today will allow us to price the road … and I think it’ll be a terrific thing. People can decide whether cost or the convenience factor is more important to them,” Granoff said.

He closed his presentation by talking about some of the products on which he has worked. One such product is Phantom Auto, which uses the idea of “teleoperations,” where a control center monitors fully automated cars and makes corrections if anything goes wrong. Granoff also spoke about the push for cybersecurity in protecting these automated cars.

With all of this rapid development, Granoff sees Israel as a major source of the technology push.

“It’s remarkable that in the past few years Israel has become a major center of global transportation innovation, and there’s every indication that that momentum is going to continue. I would encourage people to come and see it for themselves,” Granoff said.

Herman said he was satisfied with the event overall.

“Technology can and will play a huge part in the future of fixing climate change,” Herman wrote in an electronic message to the Daily. “It is important for people to know that industries, now finance and technology, are coming together to solve real problems and make the world a better place.”

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