Formula E CEO Alejandro Agag says motorsport will help make driverless cars safe as Roborace shows off world’s first AI-powered racecar
Motorsport might be entertaining for millions of people, but even those who don’t get excited by the sound of an engine purring benefit from the performance and safety technologies that come from Formula One and beyond.
Enhanced Fuel efficiency, superior tyre endurance and even disc brakes are all features of modern road cars that owe their existence from motor racing.
The CEO of Formula E believes the links between the track and the road are stronger than ever and that motorsport will be crucial in the development of autonomous and electric vehicles.
The first Formula E ‘ePrix’ was held in Beijing’s Olympic Park in September 2014 and the third season is well underway. Its creation was greeted by curiosity and scepticism, but has gone from strength to strength.
Its popularity can be partly attributed to declining interest in Formula One as a result of Mercedes dominance, a shift away from the sport’s heartlands, and decreasing free to air television coverage, but there’s no doubt that the series’ goals of sustainable motoring strike a chord with the public.
“Four and a half years ago, a few of us had an idea to build a global racing championship for electric cars,” Agag told Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona. “People thought we were crazy: there were no cars to race, we had no sponsors, no cities and little money.
“People thought we were crazy: there were no cars to race, we had no sponsors, no cities and little money. The consensus was we’d fail. I even had one of the main personalities in the motorsport world who told me we wouldn’t make it to our first race.
“But we tried and this is Formula E today.”
Major motoring manufacturers like Citroen, BMW and Audi have signed up, while Qualcomm is a technology partner and Allianz has just signed up too. The latter will have a critical role to play in devising the future insurance policies for connected and autonomous vehicles.
“How is all this happening so fast? The reason is Formula E is more than races,” continued Agag. “It is part of the technology revolution in the auto industry. It’s the future of sustainable mobility. Our mission is that one day every car in the world be electric.
“But to do that you need a solution. I don’t believe in politically-enforced solutions. I don’t believe we’ll b buy an electric car until they’re better than traditional cars and that’s where racing comes in.”
“Racing is a motivation for our teams. All the teams want to beat each other to prove their tech is the best on a global platform so people can see it.”
By the team season five of Formula E arrives, the batteries of the cars on the grid will be double that of season one. Each season, the cars are able to complete two additional laps with the same battery and by season five drivers will no longer have to switch cars in the middle of the race –
Drivers currently have to switch cars in the middle of races, but this growth in capacity will eliminate this requirement.