Back in April, we told you about Project SAM, a Chevrolet Corvette specially modified by Arrow to enable the vehicle to be driven by Sam Schmidt. Schmidt is a successful IndyCar team owner these days, but he used to be an IndyCar driver until an accident in 2000 paralyzed him from the neck down. On Wednesday, Nevada—which has a reputation as an early adopter when it comes to automotive technology—issued Schmidt the first “autonomous vehicle restricted driver’s license.”
Project SAM works with a combination of head tracking (for the steering) and a sip-and-puff controller for the throttle and brake. The system is sensitive enough to let Schmidt actually drive the car to its potential; at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb this year, Schmidt gave a demonstration run up the mountain on race day. His co-driver, Robby Unser, confirmed to Ars that Schmidt did not take things easy.
However, Schmidt’s license does come with a few restrictions. For one thing, like the autonomous vehicle testing licenses granted by the state to Google, it’s only valid within Nevada. Also, Project SAM can’t go out if there’s snow or ice on the road, and there needs to be a pilot car ahead as well as a licensed driver ready to take control of the Z06 if necessary.