What started out as a team-building exercise to the Cleveland International film festival quickly became a possible look into the future of our industry, a reaffirmation of how life can change in an instant, and a renewed appreciation for how passion with a positive optimistic outlook can drive people to do the unimaginable.
The film “Re-engineering Sam” chronicles the journey of quadriplegic Sam Schmidt, an Indy race car driver who despite a crash in 2000 that rendered him a quadriplegic, never lost his hope or passion to drive. Throughout the movie you are drawn to Sam, his family, and their very honest portrayal of everyday vulnerabilities. Sam’s incredible drive to race and be a part of the racing industry has had an impact on everyone close to him. It would, inevitably, be the impact that Sam had on a fan, that would make his dreams of driving a car again come true.
During the film we are given an inside look at the doctors and scientists, who are just as driven and dedicated as Sam, to advancing adaptive technologies. Their ground-breaking technology that utilizes head movements and brain waves is paving the way for advances in the way people with spinal cord injuries operate and communicate. For Sam, the technology has allowed him to drive again.
May of 2016, Sam attained 152 mph in his adapted car at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Sam’s car uses four cameras to monitor his head and transmit his movements to the tires. He also uses voice commands to switch gears, head motions to steer and breath manipulation to accelerate and brake. In September, he was awarded the first restricted license in the nation to drive a semi-autonomous car by Nevada Lt. Governor Mark Hutchison. Driverless technology may be on the horizon, but for passionate drivers like Sam there’s nothing better than being behind the wheel.