Pro Trailer Hitch Assist works by using the rear camera and corner radars to align the hitch with the trailer coupler while simultaneously controlling the truck’s speed, steering, and braking to stop at just the right place, according to Ford's news release.
Pro Trailer Hitch Assist is part of a suite of driver-assist technologies already available for the F-Series, including the F-150, F-150 Lightning, and the all-new F-Series Super Duty.
“Pro Trailer Hitch Assist is another smart solution to save time for our customers. Instead of struggling to hitch a trailer alone or with a spotter, customers can now get hitched more confidently and on their way to the lake or a job site," said John Emmert, Ford Truck general manager.
To operate Pro Trailer Hitch Assist, the customer pushes and holds a button while monitoring progress visible on the truck’s large center screen display.
The feature uses advanced machine learning technology to detect the hitch ball, trailer, and coupler at distances of up to approximately 20 feet. As the truck backs up to the trailer, the system figures out the best path to follow.
Computer vision is used to precisely detect both the hitch ball and trailer.
After the driver verifies the coupler is positioned higher than the hitch ball, the truck’s control algorithms steer the truck, lining it up so the hitch ball can be positioned directly under the trailer’s coupler.
Ford collected a large volume of data to develop Pro Trailer Hitch Assist’s machine-learning algorithms to detect a broad variety of trailers of varied sizes and types on different terrain and in various weather conditions.
The Pro Trailer Hitch Assist technology was developed in-house by Ford’s Advanced Driver Assistance Systems team. Over the development, Ford received 60 patents.