Ford’s expanding the catalog of features for the F-Series that make trailering more convenient. The new upgrade is called Ford Pro Trailer Hitch Assist, not to be confused with other tech tricks like Dynamic Hitch Assist or Pro Trailer Backup Assist. This one is for hooking up, taking control of the pickup to get the trailer ball parked underneath the trailer hitch. The automaker’s release for the feature said, “Pairing a truck and trailer can be tricky and often embarrassing if others are watching and waiting.” If people are waiting and watching without helping while you’re trying to get hitched, there’s the real problem. For when you’re on your own or it’s better not to disturb anyone else, though, Pro Trailer Hitch Assist could be a boon.
To get the feature, a truck needs to be ordered with the Trailer Tow Package that costs $1,325 on some trims of the F-150, or the Tow Technology Package that costs $925 on some trims of the F-Series Super Duty. The F-150 Lightning can also be equipped with the tech.
Using the system means pressing the Pro Trailer button. The system uses the truck’s rear camera, ultrasonic sensors, and computer vision to identify the ball and identify the coupler on a trailer up to about 20 feet away. After it alerts the driver to those positive IDs, the driver puts the truck in neutral and holds the Pro Trailer button to instruct the vehicle to back up until the ball’s aligned under the coupler. The rear sensors will pause the process if they detect obstructions. Completed successfully, a notice on the screen reads, “Alignment complete. Connect the trailer.” All the driver has to do before backing up is make sure the coupler stands higher than the ball, and when finished, lower the trailer onto the ball.
The automaker says it gathered “a large volume of data” to create the feature in-house, ringing up 60 patents during development while trying to create the widest variety of working conditions. It sounds like trucks that use the feature will continue to upload new data to the dev team, Ford saying “future trailer image data can be used to make system better over time through Ford Power-Up software updates.”
Ford says Pro Trailer Hitch Assist is available on 2023 trucks now. Director of technology communications Alan Hall told PC Mag the feature “will be pushed out via an over-the-air update to all 2021-22 F-Series trucks shortly,” so long as those trucks are equipped with Pro Trailer Backup Assist that comes with those towing upgrade packages.