DENVER— What if I told you there was a way you could drive a car without ever using your feet or your hands?
Using technology that was already out there, Arrow Electronics developed a semi-autonomous car back in 2014 that does just that: allowing those living with limited movement to get behind the wheel and drive.
Now in 2018, they’re allowing people outside of their company to drive the Sam Car.
Out at Bandimere Speedway in the town of Morrison, it's normal to see a corvette racing down the track, but this corvette is different.
“Sam Car one of a kind modified corvette so that disabled people can drive only using their heads,” said Joe Verrengia, Director of the Sam Car Project said.
That’s right you head Joe correct. It’s a car you can drive without using your hands and feet.
“With simple electronics that are already invented we were able to modify this corvette, so quadriplegics can drive at race track speeds,” Verrengia said.
Wait, hold up. This technology sounds like something out of a movie. How can someone drive and control this car without using a steering wheel or pedals to brake?
“The steering is modified so four infrared cameras are pointed at the driver’s head when the driver turns to the left the cameras track that and the cars goes left. Same way to go right. So, we are not tracking your eye movement it’s your whole head,” Verrengia said.
Now on to the throttle and braking system: You simply sip and puff into a clear tube to help the car move.
“You blow into the tube to go faster, and suck back on the tube to brake and that’s how you drive,” Verrengia said.
First time Sam Car driver Mark Deschamp has been in a wheel chair his entire life and loved every second of his driving experience.
“So much fun, I can’t stop thinking about it. My dream car and then you realize how easy it is to drive. You have to really concentrate, but it’s a lot of fun; so simple,” Deschamp said.
His top speed in the car reached 18 mph.
Deschamp believes this car can also eliminate some boundaries for disabled drivers, giving them a sense of independence and accomplishment.
“Majority of the people who are disabled were able-bodied at one time, so having them realize they can do stuff... yeah it’s a little different, but they can still do what they use to do. It will be really mind blowing for a lot of people I bet,” Deschamp said.
Arrow Electronics hopes this technology will continue to advance, ultimately allowing more individuals to be the driver of their own life.
Also, other organizations are taking notice of this, too.
The Association for Driver Rehabilitation Specialists sent Denver7 a statement saying they are excited about the possibility that the electronic controls in the Arrow Electronics can have for drivers with disability. The cost of the technology, however, remains a big factor.
The ADED also says they see the potential this technology can have to help people with all types of disabilities safely and independently mobilize throughout their community.