Indian Formula E team faces backlash over using "AI-generated" influencer

Mahindra Racing remove AI influencer after major backlash from fans (Collage via Sportskeeda)
Mahindra Racing remove AI influencer after major backlash from fans (Collage via Sportskeeda)

Indian Formula E team Mahindra Racing has recently retracted its AI influencer project from all of its social media platforms. On Tuesday, January 9, the team announced that it has launched an AI-generated influencer named Ava, who will be depicting the team's journey through the 2024 season.

As soon as the team posted about the AI-generated individual on its official social media platforms, hundreds of motorsport fans flocked and criticized the team for it. Several protested that the team should have hired a real human being as an influencer rather than making a fake AI-generated one.

After observing the repercussions from the motorsport community, Mahindra Racing immediately removed all the posts related to Ava its their social media platforms.

Additionally, the CEO and team principal of Mahindra Racing, Frederic Bertrand publicly acknowledged the issues and declared that their AI project has been discontinued.

"Nurturing diversity, inclusion and innovation is at the heart of Mahindra Racing", CEO and team principal Frederic Bertrand commented via X. "Our AI influencer program was designed with this innovation in mind. Your comments hold tremendous value. We have listened, understood and decided to discontinue the project," he said in a team press release.

The Indian Formula E team utilized generative artificial intelligence platforms such as Leonardo AI and Midjourney, along with appointing Roanne Crouse as its head of partnerships, to designate its new AI ambassador.

The 2024 Formula E race in Hyderabad canceled due to an unfulfilled event contract

A few days ago, Formula E officially announced that the 2024 Hyderabad E-Prix race would not go ahead.

In an official press release, the sport explained that since the host city agreement signed on October 30, 2023, by the Government of Telangana, was not fulfilled, the Formula E Operations (FEO) had no choice but to cancel the event.

Jeff Dodds, the sport's CEO, was quoted as saying in the team's press release:

β€œIt is deeply frustrating that we cannot build on the success of the inaugural race last year, which delivered almost 84m USD in positive economic impact to the region. We are also disappointed for our major Indian partners, particularly Mahindra and Tata Communications. Racing in Hyderabad was important to showcase the benefits of adopting electric vehicles in a market where pollution from vehicle engines has a massive impact on public health and the environment.”

The government of Telangana and the sport signed a multi-year agreement in which Hyderabad E-Prix became part of the race calendar. Only time will tell whether India will return to the sport as a venue in 2025 or not.

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Edited by Samya Majumdar