Date: Oct. 11, 2016 –

Sam Schmidt, a professional driver, lost the ability to control his arms and legs following an accident in a race. But he will now be able to drive on public roads again, thanks to a special quadriplegic driver’s license that was issued to him by the state of Nevada.

Here are some of the details reported in “Quadriplegic Man Gets Nation’s First Autonomous Car Driver’s License,” an article that Laurie L. Dove wrote for on October 6, 2016:

  • The license will allow Schmidt to drive his Corvette, which has been outfitted with special controls by Arrow Electronics. Schmidt can steer the car by tilting his head, accelerate or slow by puffing or sucking on a tube, and shift gears with voice commands.
  • Schmidt can only drive when another driver is in the Corvette. In addition, he has to follow an Arrow Electronics pilot car and he is not allowed to drive when ice or snow are present.
  • Schmidt has piloted his Corvette to a speed of 152 mph duringa demonstration at the Indianapolis Speedway. He has also demonstrated his driving prowess in a special demonstration at Pike’s Peak. But neither of those demonstrations were conducted on public roads.

Why Is Schmidt’s Special License Important to the Future of Autonomous Cars?

On a certain level, it is tempting to say that there will be little impact, because Schmidt’s car with its specialized controls can be classified as only semi-autonomous. There is also the fact that thousands of vehicles on the road have already been equipped with hand-operated and other controls that allow handicapped drivers to operate them.

The most significant effect is probably historical, because Schmidt’s license could set a precedent for a coming wave of licenses to be granted to drivers whose physical impairments could restrict them to driving fully autonomous vehicles. If and when that day comes, it will be due in large part to the license that entitled Schmidt to navigate public roads in his very cool – and very fast – Corvette.

To Explore Further . . .

If you’d like to learn more about the future of driverless cars, plan to attend our upcoming Driverless Cities Summit, to be held from October 26-28 in San Mateo, California.  The Summit will highlight the latest activities of regulators, modern designs for smart city planning, cutting-edge tech and applications for connectivity and paradigms for allocating funding.