Ford on Wednesday announced an artificial intelligence feature for hooking up trailers.
Called Pro Trailer Hitch Assist, the new system can control steering, acceleration, and braking to stop a pickup truck in exactly the right spot, by using the rearview camera and radar to align the hitch with the trailer. Ultrasonic parking sensors also detect any obstacles in the truck’s path.
Available on the F-150, F-150 Lightning, and F-Series Super Duty trucks, the system is activated with the push of a button. Operation is hands-free, but drivers have to monitor everything, using a camera feed on the truck’s central touchscreen showing an up-close view of the hitch.
Pro Trailer Hitch Assist is based around a machine-learning algorithm, which can detect specific objects like the hitch ball and trailer at distances of up to approximately 20 feet, according to Ford. The automaker claims it fed the algorithm a large amount of data “to detect a broad variety of trailers of varied sizes on different terrain and in various weather conditions,” and that improvements can be made though future software updates. A separate control algorithm steers the truck.
Pro Trailer Hitch Assist builds on Ford’s Pro Trailer Backup Assist, which partially automates backing up a trailer once it’s connected. The driver selects an angle using a dashboard knob, and the truck controls steering and speed.
In addition to availability of Pro Trailer Hitch Assist, the 2023 Ford F-Series Super Duty has been updated with a pair of new engines, improved towing and hauling, and added connected features. The F-150 Lightning, meanwhile, has received multiple price increases, with the entry-level Lightning Pro now starting at $61,869, including destination. The electric truck started at $41,669 when it was launched in April 2022.
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