Nevada issues semi-autonomous license to quadriplegic driver

Sam Schmidt (in the car) and the team of Arrow engineers with Project SAM in the pit lane at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Schmidt did some demo laps for the crowd on Carb Day. Arrow photo.

Jonathan Gitlin, Ars Technica September 28, 2016

Back in April, we told you about Project SAM, a Chevrolet Corvette specially modified by Arrow to enable the vehicle to be driven by Sam Schmidt. Schmidt is a successful IndyCar team owner these days, but he used to be an IndyCar driver until an accident in 2000 paralyzed him from the neck down. On Wednesday, Nevada—which has a reputation as an early adopter when it comes to automotive technology—issued Schmidt the first “autonomous vehicle restricted driver’s license.”

Project SAM works with a combination of head tracking (for the steering) and a sip-and-puff controller for the throttle and brake. The system is sensitive enough to let Schmidt actually drive the car to its potential; at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb this year, Schmidt gave a demonstration run up the mountain on race day. His co-driver, Robby Unser, confirmed to Ars that Schmidt did not take things easy.

Schmidt was paralyzed in 2000 in an accident that happened during testing in the off-season. Arrow photo

Schmidt was paralyzed in 2000 in an accident that happened during testing in the off-season. Arrow photo

However, Schmidt’s license does come with a few restrictions. For one thing, like the autonomous vehicle testing licenses granted by the state to Google, it’s only valid within Nevada. Also, Project SAM can’t go out if there’s snow or ice on the road, and there needs to be a pilot car ahead as well as a licensed driver ready to take control of the Z06 if necessary.

Those restrictions are due to the fact that Project SAM has been classified by Nevada as an autonomous vehicle, since Schmidt isn’t deemed to have full “active control” of the car.

Source Ars Technica

Former IndyCar racer and quadriplegic Sam Schmidt drove a modified racecar around the track during the 2014 Indianapolis 500 festivities, becoming the first person with quadriplegia to drive a racecar at high speed using integrated advanced electronics.
Arrow Electronics and its partners developed the technology that could change the automotive industry. Engineers modified the car—a 2014 Corvette C7 Stingray—with a human-to-machine interface so that Schmidt can drive it using only his head. It is known as the semi-autonomous motorcar, or SAM. Arrow Electronics. Youtube Sep 3, 2014

Also see
IndyCar’s Sam Schmidt walks for first time in 21 years, dances with daughter at wedding Indianapolis Star
Schmidt Reaches Speeds Of 150 In Arrow Electronics Sam Car ‘Qualifying Run’ in Verizon IndyCar Series
Arrow SAM project in Arrow Community
Long after his accident, Sam Schmidt takes the wheel again thanks to Project SAM in Ars Technica

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