In an interview with Autocar last year, Jaguar Land Rover’s head of product strategy Hanno Kirner asserted that, in the age of driverless motoring, many keen drivers will still want to get behind the wheel.
“Whether it is SVO (JLR’s performance arm) recreating classics to modern standards or creating track-day specials, I think it will grow as autonomous driving becomes a regular part of lives,” he said.
The suggestion seems to be that driving will live on largely as a leisure pursuit, similarly to the way people enjoy horse riding.
The more exhilarating end of this pastime will be motorsport, but driverless vehicles are already edging into even this hallowed territory.
The radio controlled car racing scene has had a loyal following for years and esports – video game competitions – are huge these days. It isn’t the same the purists will scream. Maybe not, but it is getting closer.
Just a few days ago, 23-year-old Enzo Bonito set the internet alight by beating Formula E champion (and ex-Formula 1 driver) Lucas di Grassi on a winding track in Mexico.
What made this performance exceptional is that Bonito is a professional gamer. He trained on racing simulators but successfully transferred those skills to tarmac to beat a big-name star.
Coincidentally, di Grassi is also CEO of the Roborace autonomous racing series, which is due to run alongside some Formula E races this season.
Is this an early example of passionate drivers and driverless cars living in harmony?