Towing Without a Hitch? Watch Toyota’s New Tractor Beam in Action in This Video
Toyota is developing a new “towing” system that won’t need a hitch. Instead, as shown in a new video, it uses a vehicle’s sensors for one to closely follow another vehicle, like a trailer would. Toyota calls it “hitchless towing,” although the second vehicle is driving under its own power behind the first. The new system is a prototype, and likely won’t be in production soon, but it’s an interesting answer to a question nobody has asked yet.
How does Hitchless towing work?
Basically, the following vehicle pairs with the vehicle in front. Then, as the driver of the front vehicle steers or stops, the follower can mirror the lead vehicle. It still requires a human to drive the front vehicle, so it’s kind of like driving two cars at once. Toyota has ideas for this system that include powered trailers and more. There could also be a use for the idea in urban centers to control traffic congestion, with vehicles following each other closely but safely through congested streets.
What does Hitchless towing look like?
Toyota showed off the concept with two Sienna minivans driving around a closed course. Unfortunately, it’s not very exciting. It simply looks like one minivan following another minivan. But, that lack of excitement could be one of the best parts of the experiment, in some ways.
Though nobody has asked for a system like this, it does allow one person to “drive” two cars at once, or for large groups of people to travel together in an uninterrupted chain.