Anyone whose vehicle has a rearview camera can attest to the newfound quickness and ease of lining up a trailer and hitch without a spotter. Ford has now taken that a step farther by granting an assist to the actual act of backing up a trailer.
Ford’s new Pro Trailer Backup Assist is a pickup-truck first that takes the challenge out of backing up a trailer, an act that requires the driver to steer the vehicle in the opposite direction the trailer is desired to go. The feature will be available on the 2016 F-150.
The technology allows the driver to steer the trailer by using a control knob located between the steering wheel and in-dash display screen, while it works in a manner similar to Ford’s Parking Assist to turn the vehicle’s wheels and limit the truck’s speed.
“Pro Trailer Backup Assist is a smart solution to save time and increase productivity for our customers,” said Doug Scott, marketing manager, Ford Truck Group. “Instead of struggling to back up their trailers, they can spend more time on the job or enjoying the lake.”
The system works by allowing the driver to rotate the control dial to indicate how much steering input to put into getting the trailer going in the proper direction. The technology then steers the truck to turn the trailer the desired amount, while limiting vehicle speed as needed.
Ford says the end result is that less time is spent trying to park a trailer, mostly by reducing the time spent fixing manoeuvring mistakes.
It’s the latest technology available to the F-150, joining Curve Control (which reduces torque and applies four wheel braking if the vehicle enters a turn too quickly), Lane-Keeping Assist (alerting the driver via steering wheel vibration when the truck drifts beyond the lane markers), and Adaptive Cruise Control and Collision Warning.
It also enhances the F-150 towing capabilities that also includes an integrated trailer brake controller, trailer sway control, dynamic hitch assist (for easy lining up of truck and trailer), and smart trailer control module (to alert the driver to which trailer lamps aren’t working).
Ford has reportedly been working on Pro Trailer Backup Assist for about a decade, and filed five patents for the technology, with another 10 pending approval.