Ford, America’s truck leader, pioneers towing innovation again by introducing Pro Trailer Backup Assist for the 2016 Ford F-150 – a segment-first technology that makes the challenge of backing up a trailer easier than ever for both experts and infrequent towers alike.
Backing up a trailer can be tricky. The truck’s front wheels have to be turned the opposite direction the customer wants the trailer to go. Turn too hard and the trailer can hit the vehicle, or jackknife. Whether working alone or with a spotter, backing up a trailer can be a tension-filled ordeal. Pro Trailer Backup Assist helps take the frustration out of backing up. It works by letting the customer steer the trailer with a control knob while the truck steers its wheels and limits vehicle speed.
To operate Pro Trailer Backup Assist, the customer rotates a knob to indicate how much the system should turn the trailer. The technology automatically steers the truck to turn the trailer the desired amount. The system may limit vehicle speed to enhance occupant comfort over various road surfaces. The result is less time required to back up a trailer with improved confidence – it even helps towing experts by reducing time lost to maneuvering mistakes.
“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 trailer, they can spend more time on the job or enjoying the lake.” Leveraging advanced camera technology, Ford engineers developed the visual-based trailer tracking system and tested it for almost a decade. Along the way, Ford earned five patents for the technology, with 10 more pending.
Driver-assist features now on F-150
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, developed exclusively by Ford engineers to help in those cases where customers may enter a turn too quickly. Curve Control 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.
Available lane-keeping system is designed to help prevent a driver from drifting outside of the intended driving lane. The system is designed to detect the left- or right-hand road lane markings using a camera mounted between the windshield and rearview mirror. A vibration in the steering wheel is used to alert the driver. The system can also provide steering torque to help guide the vehicle back into the lane if needed.
Segment-exclusive adaptive cruise control and collision warning with brake support uses radar in the front of the truck to measure the distance and speed of vehicles detected ahead. Using this information, the F-150 can automatically maintain a consistent following distance set by the driver. The speed will be maintained if adaptive cruise control is activated and the vehicle is traveling at least 15 mph. Collision warning triggers visual and audio alerts if the system detects the following distance is diminishing too quickly and a collision may occur. It also pre-charges the brakes if the driver needs to stop suddenly.
Ford trailering innovations and leadership
Pro Trailer Backup Assist for the 2016 F-150 is the latest in a long line of segment-first and class-exclusive Ford truck innovations and capabilities that make trailer towing easier. Others include:
- Segment-first integrated trailer brake controller, 2005: The first integrated, factory-installed trailer brake controller for the 2005 F-Series Super Duty, the Ford system ties into the truck’s brakes to activate the trailer brakes by sensing truck brake pressure
- Segment-first trailer sway control, 2009: The first trailer sway control for the 2009 Ford F-150, the Ford system senses differences in movement between truck and trailer, using the wheel brakes in both vehicles to counteract sway
- Segment-first smart trailer control module, 2015: First system to the truck’s productivity screen to show the driver which lights on a trailer connected to the truck aren’t working – meaning the driver or a passenger doesn’t have to get out of the truck and walk around the trailer to find lights have blown out
- Class-exclusive dynamic hitch assist, 2015: A rearview camera feature that incorporates a dynamic line based on steering wheel angle in the display helps customers line up their truck and trailer with no spotter or need to exit the vehicle
- Best-in-class light-duty towing, 2015: 2015 Ford F-150 can tow more than any other light-duty pickup truck – up to 12,200 pounds