Former Indy Racing League rival Sam Schmidt continues to break ground for accessible driving technology. Co-owner of the Arrow McLaren SP team, Completed Signature hill climbing that uses head movements and breathing to guide at this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed - the first time someone has demonstrated this feature at the UK event. Schmidt drove a McLaren 720S Spider modified by Arrow Electronics to monitor its head using infrared cameras. He controlled acceleration and braking by breathing in and out with a “sip and breathe” device. The racer also wore the SAM Suit, a semi-autonomous exoskeleton concept that helps him walk.
Schmidt became quadriplegic when he injured his spinal cord in a practice lap accident in 2000. He was a long-time advocate of stroke treatment, and in 2014 he partnered with Arrow to drive a Corvette using a combination of head tracking, sip-puff, and volume controls. In 2016, he became the first American to be licensed to drive autonomously on highways, driving a Corvette in Nevada.
While alternative mobility solutions may give some autonomy to those who can no longer drive for one reason or another, it is not entirely clear what role Arrow’s technology will play in the future. We’ve reached out to the company for details on where it sees projects like the SAM header. Arrow will also compete against self-driving technology, which is approaching a practical reality as Level 3 autonomy reaches public roads. However, fully self-driving cars (Level 5 autonomy) will take years to arrive.
Update 24.06.22 19:27 ET: An Arrow spokesperson reached for comment told Engadget that while SAM is “not fully open source,” the technology could be “usable for future development if Arrow approves.”
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