Some of you may remember the SAM Corvette that was driven by former Indy race car driver Sam Schmidt. And how could you forget? It’s not everyday that you get to see the nearly-impossible, such as a quadriplegic piloting a sports car at speed.
Before watching ESPN’s Sports Science break down how the remarkable technology inside this 2014 Corvette works, have a look at some of the key facts and corrections to what we told you last time.
Initially, we were under the impression that Schmidt controlled the accelerating and braking of the car by blowing in and out of a special straw. Now, we see that Schmidt accelerates the vehicle with a back-wards head motion, and slows the vehicle by biting down on a pressure-sensitive sensor in his mouth. The harder Sam bites down on the sensor, the the quicker the car comes to a stop.
Let’s shed some light on the high-tech equipment that enables Sam to operate the C7 Corvette. As Sam inputs the controls, the information is sent to a computer unit in the trunk at almost the speed of light, literally. The total reaction time from Sam’s movements to the car’s movements is as fast as a blink, .01 seconds. As a safety precaution, a GPS system tracks the cars location with an accuracy of five inches, and corrects the vehicle should it veer off of the course.
We imagine the controls to be a bit harder than Schmidt makes them seem, but when asked he says the drive returns “a feeling of normalcy.”
In fact, Schmidt’s heart rate never rose higher than 10 beats per minute higher than his resting heart rate, even at speeds over 80 miles per hour. Schmidt has actually gone over 100 MPH behind the wheel of the SAM Corvette, and he and the team hope to have the technology on the open road within five years. Based on what you see below, we’d say they’re certainly on track.