On Jan. 6, 2000, champion race car driver Sam Schmidt crashed his vehicle at the Walt Disney World Speedway in Orlando, Fla. The accident severely injured his spinal cord, leaving him paralyzed from the neck down and with doctors telling him that he would never walk again, let alone get behind the wheel of a car.
Colorado-based neurosurgeon Dr. Scott Falci had other ideas and enlisted the aid of several technology companies, including ARROW Electronics, the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), and Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corp., to make his dream of helping Schmidt drive come to fruition 17 years after the accident.
The result was the SAM Car. Using infrared sensors, cameras, on-board GPS and other next-generation technologies, the team created a semi-autonomous vehicle that Schmidt could power by simply moving his head. Leaning right or left would steer the car, tilting his head back would cause the car to accelerate, and biting down on a special mouthpiece would cause the car to break.
Watch this CNBC video with Jay Leno to learn more and see the car in action:
Advanced Thermal Solutions, Inc. (ATS) was brought in by ARROW to assist with the challenge of providing thermal management for the car’s on-board computer system. ATS designed an enclosure that cooled both sides of the board without the need for a fan and protected it from dust and other debris.
ATS engineers Bahman Tavassoli, Vineet Barot, and Anatoly Pikovsky are proud to have collaborated with these other innovative pioneers to provide Mr. Schmidt with the ability to get back behind the wheel where he belongs.