When it comes to hitching a trailer, I bet most seasoned drivers think they’re a pro at it. Sure, reversing cameras make backing onto a tow ball far easier than ever before, but do you really nail it 100 per cent of the time? Continental has developed a system that on paper seems to nail the process every time, from both in and outside your towing vehicle of choice.
Continental’s Automated Trailer Hitching system uses an intelligent rear-view camera module. Drivers can control it from a typical interior screen or via smartphone and tablet.
“Automated Trailer Hitching makes the tedious task of hitching a trailer extremely convenient. Once initiated, the system identifies trailers behind the vehicle and the operator selects the trailer they want to hitch by simply tapping on the screen inside the vehicle or on a mobile device. Our system then calculates the vehicle path and manoeuvres the vehicle securely and automatically towards the selected trailer, based on intelligent camera technology and other vehicle dynamics information,” said Jeremy McClain, Head of Systems & Technology for Chassis & Safety at Continental North America.
Central to the whole system is artificial intelligence (AI). It identifies the features of a trailer without the need for actual visual aids or extra hardware. The driver simply starts the process then the tow vehicle backs towards the trailer almost magically. It will stop just shy of the trailer, so you can physically check the height of the tow ball is low enough to fit the coupler. Higher end vehicles with air-suspension can be calibrated to automatically pull off this procedure. Once all is lined up, the vehicle will again autonomously finish the backing process.
“The system is realised through rear-view cameras that are already equipped on many of today’s vehicles and which will become mandatory for all new vehicles in the U.S. from May 2018. The system can be further enhanced through the implementation of Continental’s surround-view camera system. We’ve added further intelligence to the camera system(s) and a new software solution that is intertwined with an intuitive human machine interface,” McClain said, “We believe that Automated Trailer Hitching will reduce the anxiety of those who only occasionally use their vehicle for towing. We also anticipate that the number of frustrating and sometimes damaging or dangerous incidents related to backing up to a trailer will go down as a result. Check out the demo below!