McLaren was controlled through a head shake by paralyzed race driver Sam Schmidt

McLaren was controlled through a head shake by paralyzed race driver Sam Schmidt

The paralyzed driver Sam Schmidt drove the 1.86km Hillclimb of the Goodwood Speed ​​Festival on June 24. He did so in the Arrow Electronics’ Semi-Autonomous Motorcar (SAM Car) as part of the ‘FOS Highlights and FIA Batch 5’.

Sam Schmidt and Arrow Electronics participated in this year’s Goodwood Speed ​​Festival with the 2021. McLaren 720S Spider sports car. This car has been modified by Arrow in such a way that Schmidt can drive with his head alone. In addition, Sagittarius showed the bones of the Semi-Autonomous Mobility (SAM) Suit at the Speed’s Future Lab Festival Laboratory, with a steering wheel that recognizes the surface of the SAM Vehicle that is manufactured but has already been successfully tested at low speeds.


Schmidt owns the IndyCar team (Arrow McLaren SP) and is a former Indy Racing League driver. In 2000, he collapsed during a training session on Walt Disney World in Orlando, seriously injuring his spine. He was diagnosed with quadriplegic (complete paralysis of the limbs). To help Schmidt regain his independence and drive the car, Arrow Engineers have developed a smart, integrated car that he can operate safely and independently with head and mouth controls and voice commands: Arrow SAM Car.

To direct, infrared cameras on the dashboard detect Schmidt’s head movements. He turns left to steer the car to the left and right to the right. Schmidt uses his breath to accelerate and break; breathing in and out through the ‘pull-pull’ device makes the car go slower and faster. This makes Schmidt a race driver again.


Arrow also developed other technologies to improve Schmidt mobility: the Arrow SAM suit. SAM Suit is a partnership between Arrow and robotic researchers at Vanderbilt University (Nashville, Tennessee). The SAM Suit is an improvement in current exoskeleton technology with extensions to support Schmidt’s upper body and arms, as well as the lower half of his body. The SAM suit is part of the technology used to make Arrow SAM Car, which demonstrates how technology can give people with disabilities freedom and choice.

Presented by Mastercard, the Goodwood High Speed ​​Festival is an annual motor sport event held on the basis of Goodwood House in southern England. The event was organized by Charles Henry Gordon-Lennox, Duke of Richmond. The Goodwood Speed ​​Festival has been held since 1993 and combines the current, historical and future aspects of motorsport with motorsport.