High-Tech Problem Solvers

GM boasts that new safety technologies are keeping crashes at bay

General Motors says that their safety technology is helping to save lives.

Photo courtesy of General Motors

General Motors is one of many automakers with the goal of eliminating vehicle crashes. The company recently partnered with the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute to study the effectiveness the safety and driver assistance technology the company offers on its vehicles.

The study included the results of 3.7 million crashes, which occurred in 20 different GM models from 2013 to 2017. Here are some of the study's key findings:

  • Automatic Emergency Braking (or Forward Automatic Braking) with Forward Collision Alert reduced rear-end striking crashes by 46%.
  • Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Warning reduced lane departure-related crashes by 20%.
  • Lane Change Alert with Side Blind Zone Alert reduced lane change crashes by 26%.
  • Rear Vision Camera alone, Rear Park Assist functionality, Rear Cross Traffic Alert (which nearly always includes the two previous backing features) and Reverse Automatic Braking (which includes all the previous backing features) produced, respectively, an estimated 21%, 38%, 52%, and 81% reduction in backing crashes.
  • IntelliBeam and High-Intensity Discharge headlight features provided 35% and 21% reductions, respectively, in nighttime pedestrian/bicyclist/animal crashes, with a 49% reduction when offered together.

General Motors Safety OnStar graph chart An analysis of crash results by General Motors and the University of Michigan has revealed that GM technologies help lessen the effects of crashes.Photo courtesy of General Motors

General Motors has made numerous safety technologies standard and available across its model lines. Buyers can purchase models that have some or all of the safety and driver assistance technologies that are cited as resulting in major crash reductions.

A Finland-based company is now selling high-end custom key fobs.

Photo courtesy of Awain

For when the common key fob just isn't enough, there's the Awain car key. Described by the brand as "The most exclusive car key," Alain's key fobs offer everything from a brushed titanium and anodized blue silver car key to a fob encrusted with 34.5 carats in trillion and round cut diamond.

"When I was a motor journalist, I noticed that most luxury and supercar keys were fairly non- descript and made of plastic," said Jalmari Mattila, CEO, Awain. "They didn't have the same craftsmanship or finesse as the cars they powered, which seemed like such a shame. So, with that in mind, I enlisted the help of designer Leevi Markkula and watchmaker Joakim Jokela to help me create a really beautifully crafted, bespoke and incredibly luxurious key. After two years of honing and perfecting the technical and aesthetic design, Awain and our exclusive line of keys were born."

Awain key fob custom Some models have leather and metal accents while others feature diamonds.Photo courtesy of Awain

The company offers two collections of fobs with three car keys to choose from within each collection. Grand Prix Collection models are lower end models that are named after historic race circuits: Monaco, Spa, and Suzuka. Those three models are available in eight different leather and stitching colors. The design of the keys in this collection are more understated than the others that Awain offers.

Quantum, Serenity, and Phantom models are higher-end and feature diamond designs. The Quantum model has just 345 diamonds totaling 3.6 carats in diamond while the top Phantom fob has 34.5. Serenity models have 1,250 diamonds. Buyers are offered their choice of five inner colors for their fob and Quantum buyers have three metals to choose from as well.

Awain key fob diamonds Phantom The Phantom model is a hand-customized creation that has its price tag top $500,000.Photo courtesy of Awain

The Finland-based company touts the fobs as a, "functional work of art" and describes its production process as "badass craftsmanship." Grand Prix Collection keys take the company's Nordic craftsmen upwards of 20 hours to create by hand. The more expensive Prestige Collection models take upwards of 100 hours.

Prices for the pieces range from around $11,000 to upwards of $554,000 per key.

As if the price isn't limiting enough, the brand messaging on Awain's website describes the fobs as for, "an exclusive group of true global elites." If you have to ask if you qualify, you probably don't.

Soon, you'll be able to drive away from McDonald's with your coffee in a Ford car made from the fast food giant's leftovers.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

I'm lovin' it! Ford Motor Company and McDonald's are teaming up to recycle the millions of pounds of coffee chaff leftover from the fast food giant's food service. The automaker and its suppliers will use the chaff in the creation of various auto parts, including headlamp housings and hood components.

The chaff is the skin of the coffee bean that naturally comes off during the roasting process. The companies found that they could convert the chaff info a durable material that can be used to safely reinforce vehicle parts.

Ford Motor Company McDonald's Ford Motor Company and McDonald's will soon be giving vehicles a caffeine boost by using part of a familiar staple in the morning routine, coffee beans, in vehicle parts such as headlamp housing.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

This isn't the first time that Ford has used recycled materials in their vehicles. A few years ago the company was touting its use of tomato skins and soy in the Ford Mustang.

How does it work? The chaff is heated to high temperatures under low oxygen conditions. Then plastic and other additives are added in turning the product into pellets. Those pellets are then formed into various shapes.

The new components created using the chaff-based compound are 20 percent lighter and require 25 percent less energy during the molding process.

"McDonald's commitment to innovation was impressive to us and matched our own forward-thinking vision and action for sustainability," said Debbie Mielewski, Ford senior technical leader, sustainability and emerging materials research team. "This has been a priority for Ford for over 20 years, and this is an example of jump starting the closed-loop economy, where different industries work together and exchange materials that otherwise would be side or waste products."

McDonald's is expected to direct a significant portion of its coffee chaff in North America to Ford to be incorporated into vehicle parts. Other involved companies include Varroc Lighting Systems, which supplies the headlamps, and Competitive Green Technologies, the processor of the coffee chaff.

"Like McDonald's, Ford is committed to minimizing waste and we're always looking for innovative ways to further that goal," said Ian Olson, senior director, global sustainability, McDonald's. "By finding a way to use coffee chaff as a resource, we are elevating how companies together can increase participation in the closed-loop economy."

They're not stopping there. McDonald's and Ford are continuing to find new ways to collaboratively use waste as a resource, while furthering their respective sustainability goals.