The 4th generation SAM, currently in development, will primarily focus on mechanical changes to the car with minor software upgrades.
Thus far, the team has developed their control systems on a guidance computer in the vehicle. Moving forward they’d like to integrate more of the cloud and IoT platforms for greater connectivity and improved data analytics as a way to get the best possible performance.
Pickard notes, “There was a day when we couldn’t secure a race track early in the project. The only place to go was a go-cart track. As we were shooting footage, we noticed that Sam was driving a perfect racing line, at every turn, every apex, with this 450 horsepower sports car. We realized that standard level GPS was not going to have nearly the performance and accuracy we needed.”
Of course, for race car drivers, the difference between hitting apex and staying on the track is a matter of feet and, on occasion, inches.
“For example, we’re looking at a race course in Sonoma, and it’s very important to have car attitude, heading, yaw, pitch, roll, inertial and attitude,” says Pickard. “We can’t over or under steer the car. We need high accuracy to achieve optimal performance—so we’ll continue to work on ways to integrate navigation to provide the best real-time data.” The Arrow team is looking at a range of applications such as campus shuttles, forklifts, warehouse equipment, farm equipment, etc. that could be operated using the head control solution. They’re looking to see how SAM technology might expand the employment options for disabled people, especially disabled veterans, in order to increase their productivity and help address some of the emotional challenges they face.
Pickard and the rest of the Arrow team give considerable credit to those organizations who have partnered to help the program thus far. He adds, “We’ve been very lucky in our partnerships. The technology we’re using is all off-the-shelf, systems that are proven, reliable and well-supported. Most importantly, we’ve learned firsthand, with a little help, we can all be the drivers of our own lives.”