Some people need to pull a trailer for work. Others pull them for something involving fun. Now, technology is making the process of trailering safer and easier.
Safer lane changing with Trailer Side Blind Zone Alert, and a camera view that can virtually "see through" the trailer are two examples from General Motors, which has been ramping up features to appeal to customers who tow.
"We're also the first to offer hands-free capability while towing a trailer," said Jeff Miller, a General Motors senior engineer.
GM's hands-free Super Cruise has been added as an option to the company's various vehicle lines in recent years. Now, it is available on full-size pickups and SUVs that can do some big towing.
Before engaging the Super Cruise, certain parameters must be met, including monitoring that the driver is watching the road ahead via a motion-sensing camera on the top of the steering column. The system also confirms you are trailering on the right type of highway for safe use.
"The way that we 'geo-fence' it so to speak, is by precision LIDAR mapping the roads, and then storing that LIDAR-based map in the vehicle," Miller said.
The idea behind Super Cruise is to make long-distance trailer travel more relaxing for the driver. With the system on, drivers will be able to take their hands off the wheel while the cruise control keeps the car and trailer within the lane.
If you've trailered in the past, but maybe not in the past 20 years or so, you might be amazed at how much technology is making it easier.
For example, something else pretty cool, though not necessarily brand new. Pulling a trailer moving forward is one thing, but backing it into place is quite another. Ford's Pro Trailer Backup Assist lets you do that by just turning a knob on the dashboard instead of having to work the steering wheel. An assist from technology once again, available on Ford's full-size pickup trucks and SUVs.
As for General Motors' Super Cruise, with some time on the market, the feedback has been positive from those who use it.
"Over 80% of those customers who said that now that they've utilized Super Cruise, it really does contribute to a more relaxing drive," Miller noted.