Even in the hi-tech world of Formula 1, a remote-controlled robot is still an unusual sight. Two such robots are on duty this weekend at the Formula 1 Rolex Großer Preis von Österreich 2023, allowing disabled youngsters to be in the thick of the action despite being unable to travel to the race.
The innovative mobile robots built by French company Awabot are equipped with two wheels and a screen plus camera. They move around the paddock and the press conference allowing the young fans to interact with their motorsport heroes on a personal level. In a series of virtual ‘meet & greets’, they are introduced to their favourite drivers and have the opportunity to ask them questions.
It’s great fun for the young fans as well as for the drivers, who are happy to take time out for this worthy cause and occasionally, as in the case of Nico Hülkenberg and Kevin Magnussen, step in if the technology doesn’t work as planned: when the sound suddenly cut out during one such meet & greet and the boy wasn’t able to ask his questions in person, Magnussen simply read them out to his team-mate. The presence of the robots on the grid shortly before the start of the Formula 2 and Formula 3 races also allows disabled youngsters to participate remotely in the action there.