Sam Schmidt takes control and gets his drivers license back

October 6, 2016 | 02:49
Sam Schmidt can now drive where he chooses
Sam Schmidt can now drive where he chooses
Here's an inspiring story showing how technology can really change lives and bring a level of independence back to anyone suffering paralysis: Sam Schmidt was at one time a rising star in the US Indy Racing League until an accident cut short his career and left him a quadriplegic. He has not been idle since the accident and runs his own team even though he can't drive himself. Last week however he was awarded a driver's license for his Corvette.

Sam Schmidt is already a successful entrepreneur and has converted a sail boat allowing him to control it single-handed just by moving his chin. Even though such a control system is not trivial the complexity of a similar system to control a road going vehicle is much greater. With his disability he would not be able to use any of the new breed of autonomous vehicles on public roads because regulations insist the driver must be capable of taking control of the vehicle in an emergency.
Promo video of Sam's new Corvette. source: Arrow Electronics.

Sam approached the problem from a different direction: working together with Arrow Electronics from Colorado he adapted a Corvette Stingray Z06 (hey… he needs to get there fast), fitting it out with cameras, sensors and computer systems so that he can control the vehicle without the need for any arm or leg movements. According to the Vergas Review Journal Sam is the first person with his level of disability to be awarded a drivers license (restricted to the use of this one vehicle). Control input comes from things such as voice commands for gear shifting and a sip-puff device to control acceleration and braking.
Truly an inspriation, only made possible by technology.

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