Memorial Day weekend, the official kick-off to summer is upon us, a time when many of us will be hitching up our boats and heading to the lake. With that in mind, Ford thinks there’s no better time to tell us about the all-new Trailer Backup Assist on the upcoming 2016 F-150. It’s a feature that basically allows the truck to take over and back up a trailer on its own, with some initial driver guidance.
So what’s so tough about backing up a trailer the old fashioned way. Well, it can be tricky. The truck’s front wheels have to be turned the opposite direction of which way you want the trailer to go. If you turn too hard, the trailer can hit the vehicle or even jackknife.
That’s where Ford says its new Trailer Backup Assist comes in. It allows drivers to steer the trailer with a control knob, to indicate how much the system should turn the trailer. The system then automatically steers its wheels the desired amount and limits vehicle speed when needed. Drivers still have to control the brakes and acceleration.
Of course, it’s not as simple as just turning a knob. First, you have to take measurements of the trailer and plug them into the computer system. Then you also need to add black and white stickers to the hitch so the rear cameras can keep track of what the trailer is doing. The rear camera gives the computer a reference angle using the stickers, limiting the truck’s rearward speed as the angle of the trailer increase.
“Pro Trailer Backup Assist is a smart solution to save time and increase productivity for our customers. Instead of struggling to back up their trailer, they can spend more time on the job or enjoying the lake,” says Doug Scott, Ford Truck Group marketing manager.
The technology to do this didn’t happen overnight. Ford spent quite a few years developing and testing it. The technology taps into the F-150’s electric power steering system and is based off the same software that led to the development of Ford’s self-parking system.
Pro Trailer Backup Assist joins a suite of driver-assist technologies already available on the all-new 2015 F-150. Among these features is Curve Control. It helps drivers maintain control of their vehicle by automatically reducing torque and applying four-wheel braking. This can reduce vehicle speed by up to 10 mph in approximately one second – assisting drivers in staying on their intended path.
The 2016 F-150, which by the way can tow 12,000 pounds, arrives in dealer showrooms later this year.
Photo Credit: Ford