If you don’t recall, Schmidt was rendered paralyzed from the neck down following a 2000 crash at the Indy 200 and has been bound to a wheelchair for the past 17 years. However, that hasn’t stopped him from climbing behind the wheel again. With help from Arrow Technologies, Schmidt now pilots a special C7 Corvette Z06.
We say special because Schmidt controls the C7 Corvette exclusive through breathing and head motions. To accelerate, Schmidt exhales into a tube, to brake, he inhales. He controls steering input by simply moving his head left or right, which is tracked through infrared cameras positioned inside the car. The cameras pick up on his motions with a set of special sunglasses Schmidt wears when behind the wheel.
With this incredible technology, Schmidt is the first person to have ever received a semi-autonomous driver’s license in the United States. Last year, the state of Nevada granted the ex-racer driving privileges on all state roads.
It’s a small step, but it could be the beginning of something greater for paralyzed individuals to get behind the wheel once again.