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Legends Dario Franchitti & Allan McNish boost California technology company in race to deploy autonomous vehicles

Prize is a share of the $10 trillion dollar future mobility market

Prize is a share of the $10 trillion dollar future mobility market

Pasadena, California (November 19, 2018). California-based COAST Autonomous, a self-driving technology company, has recruited Allan McNish and fellow Scottish motor racing legend Dario Franchitti to join its Advisory Board. The American software and technology company will use the Scottish duo’s vast motorsport experience and exceptional driving skills to help deliver Autonomous Vehicle (“AV”) solutions for low-speed environments.

Dumfries-born McNish, currently the Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler Formula E Team Principal, and Bathgate’s three-time Indianapolis 500 champion Franchitti, each boast over 30 years in the highest echelons of motorsport and can also offer top-line business expertise. COAST is aiming to provide self-driving mobility solutions for low-speed environments such as university and college campuses, airports, resorts, theme parks and city centres. McNish won the 2013 FIA World Endurance Championship, having also been victorious at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1998, 2008 and 2013, while Franchitti MBE claimed the IndyCar Series title four times (2007, 2009, 2010 and 2011) and the Indianapolis 500 on three occasions (2007, 2010 and 2012).

But with a share of a $7 to $10 trillion prize on offer, according to recent predictions by Intel and Ford about the size of the future mobility market, the race to deploy autonomous fleets is arguably the richest competition of them all.

The pair will submit valuable input for COAST’s robotics and artificial intelligence algorithms, which should result in a more intelligent system with better safety and a smoother ride. COAST’s “secret sauce” is software that is pedestrian-friendly combined with a low-cost sensor fusion that does not compromise on performance or safety. As it prepares to deploy its first fleets in 2019, COAST also plans to tap into the popular Scots’ many years of experience of performing at a top level of motorsports that includes working with OEMs, team building and organization skills and ready access to auto industry suppliers and senior executives across the corporate landscape.

“Simply sitting in a car with Dario or Allan at the wheel is akin to taking a master class in driving. From start to finish, the way they drive is completely different from how an average person drives,” said David M. Hickey, COAST’s Chairman and CEO. “They are completely aware of everything around them and anticipate every movement and trajectory of surrounding vehicles and pedestrians. They are basically performing advanced risk analysis and management instantaneously in a very disciplined and systematic manner. It seems completely obvious to us that if you are developing self-driving systems the very best professional drivers in the world should instruct the underlying artificial intelligence and software. As if that is not enough, Allan and Dario also know better than anyone what it takes to win. As success breeds success, we are incredibly fortunate to have their insight and guidance as we build a team to compete for victory at low speed.”

“Winning the big races involves mastering the environment, attention to detail, ongoing and active risk assessment, and a constant effort to improve. Above all else, safety is paramount. COAST shares this same winning philosophy. Since COAST asked me to join the team, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about everything I do in a car that had previously been subconscious after years of professional driving,” said Franchitti. “I watch the slightest movement of a driver’s head or the twitch of a front wheel so I will know when and how a vehicle is going to change direction before it actually does. COAST is setting the standard for self-driving technology and I am eager to put my knowledge and skills to work with COAST’s world-class team.”

“As with all racing drivers, I enjoy cars and performance,” said McNish. “However, I am in total agreement with COAST’s thesis regarding the benefits of low-speed AVs in private sites, city centres and controlled environments. In my world travels, I get to see the problems with traffic and pollution and I do believe that a combination of electrification and enlarged pedestrian city centres with low-speed on-demand AVs for mobility is a solution that can significantly improve urban environments. In the meantime, I am looking forward to testing a COAST golf cart and P-1 Shuttle. Even if their vehicles go slow, I am excited to help COAST’s business accelerate!”

McNish and Franchitti are part of an all-star lineup on COAST’s Advisory Board that includes Stanford Professor Dr. Marco Pavone, one of the world’s leading experts in robot autonomy and the Director of Stanford’s Autonomous Systems Laboratory, as well as Rick Baker, the former Mayor of St Petersburg, Florida, who was dubbed as “America’s Greatest Mayor of the Decade” by The Daily Beast.

SOURCE: COAST Autonomous

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