IndyCar driver Sam Schmidt will be driving in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, today at 11:19 a.m., with the help of off-the shelf technology from Arrow Electronics. Sam Schmidt, was paralyzed in a racing accident in 2000 and without the help of such technology, he would be unable to drive.
Schmidt will be driving a Corvette Stingray named SAM that is part of the SAM (Semi-Autonomous Motorcar) Project. A 2014 Corvette C7 Stingray is equipped with technology to enable a qualified quadriplegic driver to safely operate it under racetrack conditions. The SAM 2.0 phase in 2015 is a collaborative venture between Arrow Electronics, Freescale Semiconductor, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and Conquer Paralysis Now.
The SAM Stingray is controlled by the driver’s head movements and breath and enhanced with a safety system.
The computer system’s central processors collect signals from four sensors on Schmidt’s hat that are seen by infrared cameras on the windshield to control steering. Schmidt uses a sip and puff device in his mouth, by blowing for acceleration like pushing a gas pedal and sipping air to engage the brakes.
The mouth device is similar to devices used to control electric wheel chairs.
Sam Schmidt previously drove SAM around the track during the 2014 Indianapolis 500 trials. The Long Beach Grand Prix will be the first time Schmidt will tackle the tougher and harder real road course driving only with his head.
The car’s software was engineered by Noel Marshall who noted that the system is controlled by multiple quad-core Freescale processors. The input from his head movement and breath is processed by the processors and then sent to actuators that are “on top” of the existing car systems. A safety system makes sure that an unexpected movement such as sneeze will not affect controlling the car.
The SAM car will also be on display during the race this weekend. It will also be driven by Schmidt in the Austin Grand Prix in October.
Arrow electronics is a global provider of products, services and solutions to industrial and commercial users of electronic components and enterprise computing solutions.
Schmidt continued to be active in racing after his injury. Hew owns Schmidt Peterson Motorsports (SPM). Arrow Electronics will be the primary sponsor of the No. 5 car driven by James Hinchcliffe during the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series season.