SAM SCHMIDT NEVER broke 100 mph but probably ran the greatest laps at Indy last week. The former Indy racer (he won the 1999 Vegas.com 500) and current co-owner of the Schmidt Peterson Indy team was left a quadriplegic by a practice accident in 2000. But the SAM car (semiautonomous motorcar), a modified Corvette, allowed him to get back behind the wheel. "I thought I'd never be able to race again, but this vehicle made it possible," said Schmidt after his prequalifying jaunt. "It was the most normal I have felt in nearly 15 years." Here's how the car works.
The top speed Schmidt hit during his four-lap run.
Bite down on device in mouth
Tilt head left or right
Tilt head back
To find out more about the project and see video of Schmidt's ride, go to SI.com/Edge
WHAT MAKES IT RUN
Mounted on a hat to detect head movement.
Dash-mounted to track the driver's head movements.
Updates 100 times per second and prevents the car from coming closer than one meter to the wall.
The "brain" takes input from the sensors and sends commands to the actuators.
Control the steering wheel, gas pedal and brake pedal according to orders sent from the processor.
COURTESY SAM PROJECT (SCHMIDT)
COURTESY SAM PROJECT (CAR SIDE VIEW)
COURTESY SAM PROJECT (HEAD ILLUSTRATIONS)
BRET KELLEY/IMS PHOTO (CAR FRONT VIEW)
TANNER MAXWELL (ICONS)