Lucas Di Grassi, former F1 driver and 2016/2017 Formula E champion, has been named CEO of the autonomous racing initiative known as Roborace. The announcement that the Audi driver would be assuming the top spot at Roborace—a position he will hold while still racing in Formula E—was made at the Frankfurt Auto Show this week, according to Motorsport.com.
Di Grassi's relationship with Roborace started last year, as he was a motorsport advisor for the company. The Brazilian driver has been a consistent advocate for both electric and autonomous cars, pushing for their respective spots in both road use and motorsport. This, Di Grassi claims, is his motivation as Roborace CEO.
"We want to take Roborace where motorsport cannot go, focusing the platform on future road-relevant autonomous technology. The future of mobility is autonomous, that's an industry consensus now," he said, according to Motorsport.com.
He noted that drivers do still have their place in motorsports even in an autonomous future. Instead of replacing the human's role in racing, he and the company are looking to make the autonomous racing series complimentary to Formula E and other manned series.
"In the same way, I believe that motorsport is about the driver, who is the best human being behind the wheel," Di Grassi said. "I want to develop the Roborace series to be complimentary to traditional motorsport, and not to replace it."
He will drive for Audi once again in Formula E next season, as he looks to retain his drivers' title. With the sudden influx of manufacturers to the category, Di Grassi believes that the sport is headed in a positive direction—one that will continue to advance its success even further.
In addition, Roborace founder Denis Sverdlov will step to an advisory role within the company. According to him, he and his team are extremely happy to have Di Grassi on board as he's well-versed in all of the fields Roborace is looking to advance towards.
“Lucas truly understands the importance of what Roborace can achieve —making our roads smarter and safer by sharing the benefits of A.I. [artificial intelligence] to advance everything from driver assistance to collision avoidance, security technologies to full autonomy,” Sverdlov said.