Racing Legends Discuss Propelling City-Center Mobility via Autonomous Vehicles

 

With a purpose to keep the public moving smoothly while giving cities back to the people (and not to cars), COAST Autonomous is a self-driving mobility company with best-in-class software focused on providing Autonomous Vehicle (AV) solutions in low-speed environments, i.e., campuses, cities, airports and more.

Through their proven manufacturer and other partnerships, COAST’s AV product development is concentrated solely on three critical areas:

  1. Safety First
  2. Passenger Experience
  3. Low Speed

On this segment of the Connected with COAST Autonomous podcast series (the first of a two-part episode), COAST President Adrian Sussmann and CTO Pierre LeFevre chat with two Scots-born racing legends—three-time Indianapolis 500 champion, Dario Franchitti, and three-time 24 Hours of LeMans winner, Allan McNish.

Offering unique insights into the world of autonomous vehicles and self-driving technology, Sussman and LeFevre delve into McNish and Franchitti’s love of driving, the risks of driving race cars and pedestrian vehicles, the impact autonomous vehicles will have on driving, racing and personal vehicles in the future, as well as the overall value that AVs can bring to cities.

For McNish, cars have always represented two things: a love—because it was something so ingrained into his childhood—and also, a means—a way to put food on the table. Around cars all his life, prior to launching his career in racing, McNish grew up in his father’s dealership, gaining a great understanding of how vehicles work from the ground up.

“We are in such a changing time, and it’s such an opportunity, but we’ve got to be on to it, because, to be honest, we’re going to be seeing some movement in technology and the way we do things—the way we use cars and the way we just use mobility—changing quicker than ever before,” McNish said. “And it’s now! It’s not in five or 10 years’ time. It is now, and that excites me. I like that.”

With a grandmother who used to bring him model racing cars from Italy when he was a young child—which he still displays proudly on shelves—Franchitti has also been around cars all his life, triggering a passion that literally “drove” him into his racing career years ago and a love for different cars and driving that still continues to propel him today.

For someone who lives about 20 miles from London’s city center but takes anywhere from two to three hours in traffic to get there, Franchitti sees a true need for an alternative to the personal vehicle, particularly in low speed environments—one that fits with COAST Autonomous’ purpose of giving the cities back to the people.

“We have to come up with a better solution,” Franchitti said. “It’s just not sustainable. It’s not tenable.”

However, Franchitti worries somewhat about the fusion of people-driven cars and AVs in the same areas, and society’s preparedness—be it the readiness of today’s AV technology, road infrastructure or the individual driver’s mindset.

“I agree with you, as well, that it is actually at a different level than maybe the perception is—it’s at a low-speed level right now. In the future, it may come to the point where we’ve got multi situations on motorways and things. Right now, I’m not quite sure that everybody is prepared for it,’ McNish said. “But the cities are a clear, easy goal.”

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