Arrow modified a Corvette to empower quadriplegic, former Indy Car race driver Sam Schmidt to drive again… using only the motion of his head
Beginning in 2013, engineers at Arrow Electronics collaborated with experts in aeronautic systems, flight medicine and spinal injury medicine to modify a Corvette so it could be safely driven at speed using head movements. This is a Semi-Autonomous Motorcar, also called SAM.
In the project’s first year, the Arrow SAM team integrated separate steering, acceleration, braking and GPS navigation controls into a seamless system of advanced head controls. Arrow recruited former IndyCar race driver Sam Schmidt to drive the Corvette; he was paralyzed from the shoulders down in a racing crash in 2000.
Schmidt drove for the first time since his accident in demonstration laps at the 2014 Indy 500, reaching a top speed of 107 mph. Together, they transformed what seemed to be Sam’s impossible dream into reality—and they did it in less than a year.
Since that historic run, the team has converted a 2014 Stingray, 2016 Z06 and a 2020 C8 Stingray for quadriplegic drivers. Schmidt has tested the cars at the Bosch Proving Grounds, reached the the 14,000-foot summit to pace the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb and hit a top speed of 192 mph in a demonstration run with the US Air Force Thunderbirds.
Schmidt’s home state of Nevada issued him a unique driver’s license to legally drive the Arrow Corvettes on the street. His destinations have included Washington DC’s monuments , the hills of San Francisco, the Las Vegas Strip, New York City’s midtown traffic and Boston’s Freedom Trail – all with advanced head controls.
The 2014 Corvette is on display at the National Corvette Museum in the Skydome. Schmidt will be competing in the USCA race on Oct 10-11 at the NCM Motorsports Park in the Arrow SAM C8 Corvette. This marks Sam’s return to racing on any level since his catastrophic accident 20 years ago.