Written by IEEE | October 26, 2016 | Updated: April 3, 2017
Sam Schmidt, a former Indy Racing League driver may be paralyzed, but he is now the first person to ever receive a driver’s license for an autonomous car, allowing him to drive his Corvette in the state of Nevada.
While Schmidt’s car is not fully driverless, it doesn’t require hands to be on the steering wheel or feet to be on the brake or gas pedals. Instead, he’s able to steer the car using head motions that are monitored by cameras and sensors. He can accelerate and brake by inhaling and exhaling into a tube.
Schmidt’s new license is a milestone for disabled people, offering hope for increased independence. Accessibility and inclusion will continue to play a critical role in engineering intelligent transportation solutions; some automakers are already designing cars that can accommodate wheelchairs, as well as features tailored to those who are visually impaired.
There are some restrictions for Schmidt, like he needs a passenger in the car with him, because the car is not fully autonomous, but these advancements bring us one step closer to a future where drivers may no longer need a standard license.