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Formula 1 set to introduce ‘driverless’ safety car

The development and production of autonomous cars continues to dominate the automotive sector as car manufacturers and technology firms combine resources in a bid to accelerate the deployment of self-driving technology. Now, the development of 'driverless' cars has entered the unlikely sphere of motorsport following the announcement by the FIA.

However, the FIA doesn't intend on introducing 'driverless racing' - instead it has announced it plans to launch an autonomous safety car for its Grand Prix's. In an interview with Motorsport, The head of Technical Development within F1, Marcin Budkowski, revealed that discussions have already commenced in relation to the introduction of a self-driving safety car, which would be used to help promote self-driving technologies.

He said, "I can give you an example, but it is not the only one: we have spoken about an unmanned safety car. It would promote a technology about which there is a bit of skepticism and, instead, it could be shown that it works. The safety car driver would no longer be essential, because it would leave the controls to the computer. But we must be aware of the attraction of [F1] race cars without drivers: the engineers would love it, but not the fans."

However, while he highlighted that racing between autonomous cars would be loved by engineers. It's highly unlikely it would spark much interest amongst fans of F1. He did point out that while he remains open to implementing self-driving technologies within the sport, he does think the technology can play in a key role in advancing technical development.

Budkowski added: "I see it (the idea of autonomous racing) as a very interesting thing, which pushes things in one direction. But can this idea of having no F1 driver captivate millions around the world? Frankly I have doubts. However, using the motorsport platform to promote to the public new technologies, like an unmanned safety car, or events like 'driverless racing', can be fantastic in exploring the possibility of new solutions."

F1 drivers have consistently complained that the AMG GT safety car goes too slow, many analysts associated with the sport believe introducing an autonomous car in to F1 could be the solution to the issue.