The SAM project is a manifestation of Arrow's mission to find innovative ways that technology can improve people's lives.
Arrow modified a Corvette Stingray to empower quadriplegic, former Indy Car race driver Sam Schmidt to drive again…using only the motion of his head. Check out the inspiring 60-second spot here.
After 14 years as a passenger in a wheelchair, Arrow's innovations enabled Sam Schmidt to drive in qualifying laps at the 2014 Indianapolis 500. In 2015, he drove on three road and street courses – the Long Beach Grand Prix, the Circuit of the Americas and the Sonoma Grand Prix, at a speed of nearly 100 mph. And in 2016, Sam led the pack at the famed and dangerous Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, and returned to the Indianapolis 500 to reach a record-breaking 152 mph.
Today, Sam Schmidt is practicing street driving – including traffic signals, hazards and pedestrians – on a private instructional track in anticipation of legally driving on public streets later this year.
At Arrow, every project's guiding premise is to work Five Years Out and propel innovation forward. Arrow understands that new technologies, new materials, new ideas and new electronics will make life not only different, but better. Not just cheaper, but smarter. Not just easier, but more inspired.
The SAM project is just that.
"The most surprising thing about driving the car was that it just felt so normal. I am 100% in control. In my situation, and anybody's situation like me, they don't get that. And that was probably the coolest part about it…just feeling normal after 15 years." – Sam Schmidt
When driving, Sam wears glasses fitted with infrared sensors; inside the car, four infrared cameras are mounted facing the driver. The cameras and sensors integrate into a system that can motion-track the driver's subtle head movements in real time. Sam steers the car by looking in the direction he wants to go—on a curve, that's the apex of the turn. The processor translates data from the camera and sensor to a rotary actuator on the steering wheel. As for hitting the gas (and braking), Sam has a mouthpiece equipped with apressure sensor, specifically selected to be sensitive enough to respond to Sam's input. The gas pedal is depressed based on the amount of air pressure Sam creates, giving him full control over acceleration—from a smooth gradual increase to a quick burst of speed.
But this technology was always meant for more than just Sam.
Arrow and Sam have taken the SAM car around the country to inspire people with disabilities to be the drivers of their own lives—amassing public attention and significant media coverage along the way. Older versions of the car are even making their rounds globally, currently visiting Hong Kong in hopes of inspiring similar innovations overseas.
News of Arrow's historic technological contributions with the SAM project even reached public officials. Not only was the car was proudly displayed at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History to mark the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, but the folks at Arrow are now working with state governments in advance of Sam legally driving on public streets in late 2016.
The SAM Project didn't just enable a quadriplegic, former Indy Car race driver to drive again. Arrow didn't set out to just customize a Corvette Stingray with ground-breaking technological advancements. Rather, the project was designed to open the eyes of millions to the opportunity that innovation and partners like Arrow can provide to those in need.
The campaign also relied heavily on a PR campaign to bring awareness to not only the car itself, as well as the innovative ways that technology can improve people's lives.
To date, the project has had more than
100 major media placements, including feature stories in publications such as AP, NBC Nightly News, Yahoo!, ESPN and WIRED. Between top tier feature stories, trending video content and ample social shares, the SAM Project ultimately garnered over 1.4 billion media impressions to date
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