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F1 champion Lewis Hamilton isn't afraid of self-driving cars

The Englishman doesn't think they'll take his job any time soon.
Edgar Alvarez, @abcdedgar
February 24, 2016
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Associate Press

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Three-time Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton stopped by Mobile World Congress 2016, where he talked autonomous vehicles and what type of technologies make his job easier. Hamilton was joined on the panel by Paddy Lowe, Executive Director of the Mercedes AMG Petronas racing team, as well as Qualcomm President Derek Aberle. Naturally, given the current hype around self-driving cars, the event's moderator asked Hamilton to share his feelings on the topic.

"That's a terrible idea, because I want to have a job," the 31-year-old Englishman joked, before expressing a serious thought. Hamilton said that, while autonomous vehicles could eventually replace human drivers on traditional roads, he isn't concerned about them taking his place behind the wheel -- at least not any time soon. He, of course, is no stranger to the concept of self-driving cars, especially the model made by Mercedes, his F1 squad's parent company.

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Hamilton also touched on the tech that helps him prepare for races. He says something that's been the most beneficial is having WiFi connectivity in the car, as it allows Mercedes AMG Petronas engineers to easily download important data from it, such as the temperature of all four tires. "Seeing how the tires are working is key," he noted. "In the past you had to wait for the car to get plugged in and download that data, now it transmits over WiFi." He says this new process saves drivers' time when doing test laps, since they don't have to wait 20 or 30 minutes for the engineers to gather that information.

As for what he thinks about virtual reality racing simulators, Hamilton said he's never tried one. But he does wish there was something out there that came close to mimicking his emotions when he races. "I wish there was a way to make you feel what I'm feeling," he said, adding that it feels like he's on a rocketship every time.

[Image credits: Associated Press]

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