Formula E Champ di Grassi Named Roborace CEO

The organizers of the fledgling Roborace series for autonomous vehicles have tapped ex-Formula One driver and current Formula E champ Lucas di Grassi to be CEO.

Di Grassi, who has been involved in the Formula E electric circuit since it was launched four years ago, has served as a consultant to Roborace for the last year. He plans to continue to compete as a Formula E driver. Both series are offshoots of F1.

Roborace founder Denis Sverdlov will move into an advisory role following di Grassi’s appointment. The Russian-backed initiative demonstrated so-called “DevBot” test cars (with human backup drivers) at various races during the latest Formula E season, which was completed in July.

The Brazilian-born di Grassi envisions Roborace as a complementary racing series to traditional motorsports. He aims to attract carmakers, suppliers and technology companies to use the series to develop and refine automated technologies for future production vehicles.

Roborace plans to use the 2017/2018 season, which starts Dec. 2 in Hong Kong, to develop a flexible format for the competition that can adapt to the rapid developments in electric and autonomous industries. Initially, the automated vehicles likely will compete against each other’s timed solo laps.