Former US Indy Racing League racer Sam Schmidt is working with a team of technology engineers and medical experts led by Arrow Electronics to return to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and drive for the first time since he became paralysed nearly 15 years ago in a racing accident.
The race car that will enable Schmidt, a quadriplegic, to drive on the track again has been dubbed the SAM Project, standing for “semi-autonomous motorcar.” The 2014 Corvette C7 Stingray has been uniquely modified with integrated advanced electronics and a human-to-machine interface. The SAM Project’s objectives are not to transfer control of a vehicle to technology but rather to enable disabled drivers to enjoy the driving experience by leveraging the power of technology.
The SAM Project is a collaborative venture between Arrow, Ball Aerospace & Technologies, Schmidt Peterson Motor Sports and Falci Adaptive Motorsports, a nonprofit. Arrow is leading the development of the SAM car and the systems integration, as well as the engineering of specific systems for the car. Ball is leading the modification of the human-to-machine interface and driver-guidance system. The Air Force Research Laboratory is monitoring the driver’s biometrics during laps, as well as collecting data in how the driver interacts with the guidance systems.
Final preparations are underway for the car’s debut during the 2014 Indianapolis 500 festivities later this month.