Audi’s electronics division is developing a trailer-reversing assistant planned to be offered on the next-generation Q7 SUV. At this time, it is not expected for the U.S. market, and Audi obviously doesn’t make pickups, but don’t be surprised to find something similar as an option on your SUV or light-duty pickup in the next few years.
The hands-free system is built around a tow ball with an outer-ring sensor in it. The system determines relative angle of trailer to tow vehicle. By using the reverse proximity sensors and some detailed algorithms, the driver uses the mirrors and/or backup camera in the navigation display and directs the trailer left or right into a spot by rotating the MMI control in the console. The self-steering function, similar to the function used by Ford, Lexus and now Audi, does all the vehicle steering while the driver simply controls speed using the pedals.
Unless you overspeed things, the system will maintain adequate vehicle/trailer clearance so it doesn’t jackknife into the bumper, and it calibrates automatically to trailers of different sizes. Beginners found it quite simple, and those who tow multiple trailers know that short trailers behind medium- and long-wheelbase vehicles are among the most difficult to maneuver.
Our friends at Road & Track also found the technology interesting, most likely thinking about hooking up their racecar trailers to an Audi press vehicle.