Sam Schmidt, Mario Andretti To Preview Race In Semi-Autonomous Vehicles Friday Morning at IMS
Verizon IndyCar Series team owner Sam Schmidt and 1969 Indianapolis 500 winner Mario Andretti will meet the media at 11:30 a.m. Friday, May 12 on the fourth floor of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Media Center, previewing their race in semi-autonomous cars on the IMS road course Saturday, May 13 before the INDYCAR Grand Prix.
Schmidt, who is paralyzed from the neck down, will drive the Z06 SAM Car, a semi-autonomous vehicle that global technology company Arrow Electronics modified for him. Sensors mounted on a high-tech headset that Schmidt wears connect to infrared cameras mounted on the dashboard and detect his head-tilt motions to steer. A sip-and-puff device that Schmidt breathes into enables him to accelerate and brake. Voice commands enable Schmidt to switch gears and turn the SAM Car on and off. 1978 Formula One World Champion Andretti will use the same technology to drive an Arrow-modified Stingray SAM Car.
The race starts at 12:35 p.m. Saturday on the 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course. This will be the first time two semi-autonomous cars have raced head to head. The legendary faceoff will benefit Conquer Paralysis Now, a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization and a leading authority on spinal cord injury research and treatment founded by Schmidt. Visit conquerparalysisnow.org for more details.