A former race car driver who was paralyzed in an accident will get to return to the track at the Indy 500 once again.
Former Indy Racing League driver Sam Schmidt was paralyzed nearly 15 years ago, but thanks to the Semi-Autonomous Motorcar (SAM) project, he will pilot a 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray at this year’s Indy 500. The Stingray has been customized with integrated advanced electronics along with a human-to-machine interface, allowing Schmidt to steer it by moving his head while the brake can be applied by biting down on a pressure sensor.
“The SAM Project serves to inspire people everywhere to be the drivers of their own lives — to overcome obstacles, achieve ambitious goals, and turn the possible into the practical, often with the transformative power of advanced electronics,” said Arrow Electronics.
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The project is a collaboration between Arrow, a supplier of industrial electronics components, Ball Aerospace & Technologies, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, the Air Force Research Laboratory and the nonprofit Falci Adaptive Motorsports.
The goal will be to give Schmidt as full control as possible in the race car, where he will have to wear a special hat dotted with reflected infrared markers to monitor the tilting of his head. The semi-autonomous race car has been deemed safe to use on the race track and Schmidt will have a passenger that can operate the car’s controls if needed.
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