Indy Racing League driver Sam Schmidt was involved in a vehicular crash at the turn of this century, and ended up as a quadriplegic with many thinking that this incident would mark the end of his driving days. They were right to a certain extent, at least until the technology of today allowed him to go back to his first love, the race track. Arrow Electronics has made this possible by working on the Semi-Autonomous Motorcar (SAM) project, which is a modified 2014 Corvette Stingray that lets Schmidt drive it with just head tilts.
There will be a bunch of of infrared sensors that will turn his head movements into steering commands, allowing him to go around the track without missing a beat, while the primary control that he can touch would be a pressure sensor in his mouth that is used for braking. GPS capability will also ensure that Schmidt remains out of harm’s way through the creation of virtual fences around the track walls, where it will help nudge the car back on course should anything go awry. This is literally a case of “Look ma, no hands!”
One thing’s for sure, Schmidt will not be involved in any kind of adrenaline pumping races anytime soon, but this is still a start in helping him get around. Alternatively, a self-driving car might also be a good way for the disabled to move about.