650-Hp racing car steered by movements of the head and slowed down by taking a breath
Is it really possible to drive a Corvette ZR06 simply by moving one’s head? Sam Schmidt, a former IndyCar driver who became a paraplegic after a severe accident during a race, says it is – and ultramodern technology from the U.S. and Germany makes it possible. In a cooperative project conducted by U.S. electronics experts at Arrow Electronics and the Swabian drive-by-wire specialists at Paravan, a Corvette ZR06 was modified and reconstructed in a manner that enables Sam Schmidt to drive the 650-hp racing car safely around a racetrack by means of minute head movements.
How it works
Multiple camera sensors in the cockpit and infrared measuring points on Schmidt’s head digitize each head movement to the left or right and pass the data on in realtime to a motion-tracking system in a control unit integrated by Arrow.
The signals are then processed together with car data by means of special software and passed on to the Schaeffler Paravan Space Drive head module. This CPU sends the signals in a multi-redundant manner to steering motors that carry out the corresponding steering commands.
Acceleration and braking take place by means of a specially developed mouthpiece with an integrated pressure sensor. This sensor detects whether Schmidt is sucking in air via his mouthpiece (in which case the vehicle brakes), or is blowing air out through it (making a sound like a whistle), in which case the vehicle accelerates. The readings of the changes in pressure are sent to the CPUs in the vehicle, which convert them into signals that are then sent via the Space Drive head module to servo motors that control the accelerator and brakes.
The sensor technology and sensor-data processing systems were developed in the U.S. by Arrow. The experts from Schaeffler Paravan in Aichelau in Germany’s Swabia region installed the sensors and connected the Arrow technology to the Schaeffler Paravan Space Drive driving and steering system.
Among other things, Schaeffler Paravan was responsible for implementing innovative control sensor systems and driving features in close cooperation with Arrow Electronics. Schaeffler Paravan’s multi-redundant and street-legal Space Drive drive-by-wire system is the key system here, as it ensures absolutely fail-safe control of the primary functions of acceleration, braking, and steering.
Schaeffler Paravan technology meets the most demanding requirements. The processor unit (ECU) is certified in accordance with the ISO 26262 ASIL D safety standards, and the entire Space Drive system is approved for road use in accordance with the ECE-R 13, ECE-R 79, and ECE-R 10 standards. The heart of Schaeffler Paravan drive-by-wire technology – the head module – is manufactured according to the world’s most stringent quality standards as defined in IPC 600A.
To enable automatic gear selection, Schaeffler Paravan integrated an optimized Gear Control system into the vehicle’s center console. The Schaeffler Paravan Voice Control system was also installed in the Corvette to ensure easy control of secondary vehicle functions. The system uses brief voice commands to operate functions such as turn signals, lights, and windows. The heart of this system is the Schaeffler Paravan Gateway, which is connected to the vehicle via CAN and transmits the voice commands to the vehicle for execution.
The sensors and the drive-by-wire system that executes the commands are linked by an additional processor unit that was developed by Arrow Electronics. Paravan connected this Arrow unit to the overall system in Aichelau.