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Ford wants to turn your truck and trailer into a giant R/C vehicle

Backing up a trailer can be difficult, as it can sometimes be difficult to find a way to steer in the desired direction. But what if you could get out of your truck for a better view. Ford is looking to patent technology that could make that a reality.

One patent application filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) showing how to turn a truck and trailer into a giant R/C vehicle. The driver will use a mobile device such as a smartphone to remotely back up the vehicle-trailer combination without actually getting behind the wheel.

Image backing up Ford's remote control trailer patent

Image backing up Ford’s remote control trailer patent

The steering angle will be set by tilting the device, while the acceleration will be controlled by rotating it, according to the app. The signals are then sent to an on-board controller, which rotates according to the necessary steering, acceleration or braking inputs.

Potential applications are not limited to trucks, Ford noted in the application. According to the automaker, the proposed system can also be used in passenger cars and will work equally well with internal combustion, hybrid or all-electric powertrains.

Image backing up Ford's remote control trailer patent

Image backing up Ford’s remote control trailer patent

As with all patent applications, it remains unclear whether Ford’s remote-controlled trailer backup technology will make it to production. Automakers often patent new features to protect intellectual property before making plans to use it in production vehicles.

But the technology doesn’t go far beyond what’s already on the market. It’s essentially a hybrid of Ford’s Pro Trailer Backup Assist, which allows the vehicles to automatically steer the trailer while the driver remains behind the wheel and Tesla’s Summon Featureallow cars to enter and exit the parking space without anyone in the vehicle (although not always reliable). It’s certainly less radical than another recent Ford patent application for drive with your brain.

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