A biweekly roundup of automotive news, good, bad and just plain weird:
Classic car brings out the best in people
Take a seat, and let me tell you about the Parisienne of the Prairies. In May of this year, a truck turning left across a highway, just south of Red Deer, hit a motorcycle. The two riders, Brent and Nicole Keryluke, were killed in a type of collision that’s all too common. They were 35 and 34, respectively, and they left behind two young children.
Their six-year-old daughter and three-year-old son are both hearing-impaired, and need to make regular trips to specialists in Calgary. Brent’s parents, Ben and Marilyn Keryluke, don’t just have to deal with the pain of losing a son and daughter-in-law in an instant, they now have two small grandchildren to raise, both of whom need special care.
It’s a heartbreaking story for any family. But what is a family, if not the first brick in the foundation of a community? Perhaps the people of Red Deer can answer that for you, because when they heard the Keryluke’s story, they stepped up.
Facing down the financial burden of raising two small kids in their retirement, Ben and Marilyn decided they had little choice but to sell their son’s 1973 Pontiac Parisienne at auction. The car had been lovingly restored, and while Brent’s hope had been to pass along his passion, the couple of thousand dollars it would fetch would mean a lifeline for raising his two orphaned children.
So, last Saturday, the family took the car to Electric Garage Auctions, and put it up on the block. The auctioneer told the story, the bids rolled in, and something amazing happened.
Rod McWilliams of Red Deer Motors was the first successful bidder on the car, buying it for $29,000, well above the Keryluke’s expectations. He stood up, beamed at his winning bid, then donated the car back to the auction house.
In the second round of bidding, the Parisienne sold to Danny Fayad of Edmonton for $30,000. He, too, stood up and donated the car for auction.
In the last round, the car went to Bob Bevins, with a winning bid of $20,000. Mr. Bevins, who runs a medium-sized metal recycling yard in Red Deer, turned around and gave the car back to the Keryluke family.
Meanwhile, as the larger bids rolled in for the car, other community members pledged smaller amounts. In total, the Kerylukes received approximately $100,000 for their son’s car, and they got to keep it. The Parisienne will stay in the family, maybe coming out for a Sunday drive or two over the years. To the Keryluke children, it’ll be more than a car. It’ll carry the memory of their parents. It’ll be a symbol of all that’s best in the hearts of the people of Red Deer.
A Gofundme campaign for the family has been set up at gofundme.com/arielleampliam.
New app combats distracted driving
Hoo boy it got dusty in here. Or who’s cutting onions in my office? Anyway, on to less emotional news.
Or perhaps not. In fact, Chevrolet’s new app aims to leverage family emotions to keep you from checking your phone.
Developed by college students during a hackathon-style programming challenge, the app is fairly simple. It uses a phone’s GPS and accelerometers to detect when the phone is being physically handled at speeds above eight kilometres per hour – around jogging speed.
When an infraction is detected, the device will play messages recorded by family and friends. Yes, I know this is yet another way for mom and dad to nag you about your behind-the-wheel behaviour, but if it keeps you safe on the road, it’s a good way to actually help you reach the age where you realize that your parents were annoyingly right about nearly everything.
The app, Call Me Out, is available for free, and also incorporates a scoreboard, with points rewarded for drivers who don’t use their phones while driving. Perhaps this sort of technology could be standard?
BMW develops autonomous motorcycle
In a previous column, I suggested that an autonomous motorcycle makes no sense whatsoever. I’ll have to retract that statement – while people buy motorcycles to ride, rather than be passengers on, there is a certain amount of practicality to a self-driving bike.
And BMW just revealed one. Their self-driven GS1200 adventure bike is capable of balancing, steering, and setting itself down gently on its kickstand. It’s also kind of fun to watch the rider hop off, and then send the bike on its way, like some kind of robo-horse.
The practical application of the technology isn’t the self-driving part (although that might make parking easier), it’s the ability of the bike to recognize dangerous situations and react to them. This can be really simple stuff, like obstacle detection that primes the brakes to react more quickly and safely when the rider calls on them.
The goal here, as with Mazda and Toyota’s Guardian driver assist systems, is a vehicle that’s better able to protect its users. Don’t think of it as a self-riding bike, think of it as just the more advanced version of anti-lock brakes, making motorcycling just a little bit safer but keeping the thrills.
Watch this space for all the best and worst of automotive news, or submit your own auto oddities to firstname.lastname@example.org.