Former IndyCar driver and current Verizon IndyCar Series Team owner Sam Schmidt will drive a modified sports car on the Sonoma Grand Prix road course on Sunday in a high-speed demonstration of integrated semi-autonomous technology developed by Arrow Electronics and its partners.

Schmidt has been paralyzed and unable to use his arms and legs since a racing accident in 2000. Driving a 2014 Corvette Stingray equipped with advanced electronics for Arrow’s Semi-Autonomous Motorcar (SAM) project, Schmidt is able to steer, accelerate and brake using only his head.

“Arrow is committed to developing technology to help change people’s lives,” said Michael J. Long, chairman, president and chief executive officer for Arrow. “Our SAM car project continues to demonstrate Arrow’s commitment to working five years out.”

Schmidt intends to conquer the twists, turns and hills of Sonoma’s 2.52-mile road course—including a 180-degree hairpin turn—in a demonstration lap prior to the start of the Grand Prix, which determines the 2015 Indy Racing League championship.

Arrow launched the SAM project in May 2014 at the Indianapolis 500, where Schmidt drove four qualifying laps in the Corvette reaching a top speed of 97 mph and garnering worldwide attention. In subsequent demonstration laps at the iconic oval speedway, Schmidt reached a top speed of 107 mph.

“I thought I would never be able to drive again after my accident, but this vehicle makes it possible for me to improve every time I am on the track,” Schmidt said. “Driving fast on a road course just a year after Indy is incredible progress.”

At Sonoma, telemetry data from the SAM car’s operation and Schmidt’s driving performance and physical status will be collected and pushed into the cloud for a variety of new Internet of Things (IoT) applications.


The SAM project is a collaborative venture between Arrow Electronics, Freescale® Semiconductor, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and the nonprofit Conquer Paralysis Now. Arrow leads the development of the SAM car and the systems integration, as well as the engineering of specific systems for the car. Freescale’s technology is featured in an advanced human-to-machine interface, which includes automotive microprocessors and sensors based on its MEM’s technology.

To drive on the Sonoma road course track, the SAM car was updated with new cameras and more responsive driving controls. The modifications allow Schmidt to make sharp left and right turns, navigate hills and synchronize acceleration and braking more precisely.

The SAM project’s objectives are not to transfer control of a vehicle to technology, but rather to enable disabled drivers to enjoy the driving experience by leveraging the power of technology.

The SAM car integrates the following technology:

  • Infrared camera system: sensors mounted on Schmidt’s hat connect to infrared cameras mounted on the dashboard that detect his head-tilt motions in order to steer.
  • Sip/puff system: using breath control, Schmidt can accelerate and brake the vehicle by sucking or blowing into a tube attached to a Freescale-integrated pressure sensor.
  • Computer system: a central processor from Freescale collects signals from the camera and sip/puff system to control the car’s acceleration, braking and steering.
  • GPS technology: a guidance system keeps the car within 1.5 meters from the edge of the track, providing Schmidt with a virtual envelope about 10 meters wide within which he steers.
  • Safety system: a set of software algorithms ensure the commands sent to the computer system are real and defined within the vehicle’s limits.
  • IoT connectivity: an Arrow 4G-LTE IoT gateway running Windows 10 Enterprise on an Intel server collects, streams and stores API-accessible data in Microsoft’s Azure cloud service.

Following the Sonoma Grand Prix, Arrow will bring the SAM car to events for public inspiration and education, disabled community awareness and business development opportunities.

The SAM project supports Conquer Paralysis Now, Schmidt’s foundation dedicated to finding a cure for paralysis.

About Arrow Electronics

Arrow Electronics, Inc. is a global provider of products, services and solutions to industrial and commercial users of electronic components and enterprise computing solutions. Arrow serves as a supply channel partner for more than 100,000 original equipment manufacturers, contract manufacturers and commercial customers through a global network of more than 460 locations in 56 countries. Based in Centennial, Colo., Arrow guides today’s innovators to a better tomorrow – a world of Five Years Out. Five Years Out is a community of builders and engineers who navigate the path between possibility and practicality. Arrow is guiding the SAM project forward to improve mobility for the disabled and demonstrate the power of innovation.

About Schmidt Peterson Motor Sports

Schmidt Peterson Motor Sports is a racing team owned by quadriplegic Sam Schmidt and partners. SPMS competes in both IndyCar and Indy Lights. The SAM C7 was modified at its racing garage in Indianapolis. SPMS’s priorities are for Sam Schmidt to safely drive at speed and to support the disabled community through his related charity, Conquer Paralysis Now.

About Freescale Semiconductor

Freescale Semiconductor (NYSE:FSL) enables secure, embedded processing solutions for the Internet of Tomorrow. Freescale’s solutions drive a more innovative and connected world, simplifying our lives and making us safer. While serving the world’s largest companies, Freescale is also committed to supporting science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education, enabling the next generation of innovators.

About Conquer Paralysis Now

Conquer Paralysis Now, a nonprofit organization, is a leading authority on spinal cord injury (SCI) research and treatment. CPN is backed by an international coalition of medical doctors, research scientists and business leaders who share a singular goal: Finding a cure for paralysis.