Formula E (FE) champion and ex-Formula One driver Lucas di Grassi has joined driverless racing series Roborace as chief executive.
The 33 year old Brazilian won the 2016/17 Formula E championship for Audi Sport ABT, and his support of autonomous racing was evidenced by his appointment as an advisor to Roborace last year. He will replace series founder Denis Sverdlov, who will step down to concentrate on other projects while remaining an advisor to Roborace.
Sverdlov, a Russian entrepreneur, conceived of Roborace was conceived as a platform for driverless Artificial Intelligence in motorsport. The series is the first global championship for driverless cars, and the course, with its layout that simulates tighter city roads, makes it ideally placed to enable research on autonomous vehicles.
The first autonomous demo of Roborace was at the Paris ePrix in May 2017. Further demos included racing two LMP3 based ‘Devbot’ vehicles together in Buenos Aires, though one reportedly crashed. The series aims to start racing next year.
“We want to take Roborace where motorsport cannot go, focusing the platform on future road-relevant autonomous technology,” said di Grassi. “The future of mobility is autonomous, that’s an industry consensus now.
“I want to develop the Roborace series to be complimentary to traditional motorsport, and not to replace it. We invite the OEMs, suppliers, technology companies and universities to use our platform to showcase their technology and intellectual capacity in driverless systems. With the technology evolving so fast we must remain flexible on the events, races and challenges we are promoting.”
“We are thrilled that Lucas has agreed to come on board in an official capacity as Roborace continues to grow,” added Sverdlov. “He brings a wealth of knowledge from other motorsport competitions he has developed and evolved and we are privileged to benefit from his experience.
“Lucas truly understands the importance of what Roborace can achieve – making our roads smarter and safer by sharing the benefits of A.I. to advance everything from driver assistance to collision avoidance, security technologies to full autonomy.”
Di Grassi's racing career started in karts in 2000. In 2014, the Brazilian became the first driver in motorsport history to win a motor race in an all-electric single-seater racing car at the 2014 Beijing ePrix. He was runner-up in the 2007 GP2 Series, the 2015/16 FIA Formula E Championship and 2016 FIA World Endurance Championship.