Trailering

GM shortens trailer stopping time with new, innovative eBoost technology

A new technology developed by General Motors may change the trailering experience as we know it, making it safer for everyone involved.

Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

For some folks, towing a trailer is second nature. It's like riding a bicycle or going for a swim. But for a vast majority of others, towing can be intimidating, scary and even downright dangerous. No matter what category you fall into, truck makers have been working feverishly to come up with new and exciting technologies to make towing easier and safer for you.

One of the biggest challenges of towing, at least at speed, is the abrupt need to come to a stop. Whether it be someone pull out in front of you or the traffic light turned red sooner than you'd expect. Towing down a grade in high winds can create even more issues.

eBoost braking assist trailer This diagram shows the impact of the new eBoost technology.Photo courtesy of General Motors

To help with towing and stopping, electronic trailer brake controllers are common on rigs that tow. They help control the trailer by apply the brakes in the trailer. Setting up a trailer brake control is often described as an art, not a science.

That's where new General Motors tech comes in. Using their electronic brake system from their heavy-duty pickup, the company has fitted it to a trailer for the purpose of improving braking. Their goal was to equip a trailer with the company's eBoost braking system and see how well they could stop with it.

Their goal was to take a 2020 Silverado HD without a trailer and see how far it took to stop. Then they attached a trailer with 9,000 pounds and set a target of stopping in the same distance. They were within three feet.

That means in a full-on, emergency stop scenario a truck towing a 9,000-pound trailer can stop as short as a truck without a trailer. Not to overwhelm you with hyperbole, but that is a game changer.

Why? There's no complicated setup of the trailer brake controller. The equipment already exists, and GM managed to do it with around $1,000 worth of hardware that's already available. It would require a trailer manufacturer to integrate it with their trailers, but the safety benefits are huge.

Unlike some aftermarket anti-lock braking systems, primarily from Bosch, this system communicates with the truck, and can even use electronic stability control to reduce trailer sway.

It's a prototype at this point. GM is hoping to find a trailer maker to help develop the technology. The marketing department is still figuring out all of the details, but in addition to offering it on a brand-new trailer, it might even be possible for certain dealerships or installers to add it to existing trailers after the fact.

While there is a truck war going on with how can tow and haul the most, the efforts that GM is making right now for improving towing safety, such as their invisible trailering system and this prototype trailer brake system, makes the roads safer for everyone – even if they don't drive a GM.

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The new Maps+ app will allow drivers to use a navigation system who had not previously purchased navigation.

Photo courtesy of General Motors

General Motors is giving its vehicles a new navigation solution. Maps+, an in-vehicle, app-based way-finding program, will begin rolling out to approximately 900,000 model year 2018 and newer Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac vehicles by the end of 2021, starting on April 30.

"We know customers want an easy and convenient in-vehicle experience that improves over time," said Santiago Chamorro, GM vice president of Global Connected Services. "We listened to customer feedback and developed a product that works seamlessly with our current infotainment systems and provides a highly personalized experience that will iterate throughout the lifetime of the vehicle."

Maps+ was developed in partnership with Mapbox. The new app replaces navigation functionality in already-purchased vehicles that had purchased a navigation system. It provides navigation functionality to drivers of vehicles that did not opt for navigation at the onset.

The new application features Alexa build-in voice control that allows users to listen to music or podcasts using the system's integrated audio apps. A search box allows users to find points of interest, shops, restaurants, parking, and more. There is also embedded speed alert, low fuel recognition, predictive keyboard entry, day and night modes, category shortcuts, rear-time traffic routing, and dynamic mapping capability.

"Our obsession is the driver," said Peter Sirota, CEO of Mapbox. "The map is the canvas for providing the driver with a delightful, easy-to-use experience. From discovering new places to avoiding traffic on your commute to paying at the pump or the plug, Maps+ lays the foundation for an excellent navigation experience. We are excited to build upon this with GM to continue to drive adoption."

GM and Mapbox are committed to continuing Maps+ post-launch, developing new features and improvements based on feedback and metrics.

Maps+ will be available on select vehicles through Connected Vehicle, Premium and App Access subscription plans. Current eligible Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac owners will be notified when their vehicle is eligible for Maps+.

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New driver assist technology is coming to the Lexus lineup later this year.

Photo courtesy of Lexus

New Lexus Teammate driver assistance technology will debut on the 2022 Lexus LS 500h later this year. Its availability is constrained to all-wheel drive models.

The technology was developed based on the Mobility Teammate Concept. This automated driving concept is unique to Toyota sough to enhance communication between drivers and cars, "enabling them to reach out to each other for mutual assistance". The concept sees cars and humans interacting and partnering rather than having automation take over for drivers. This approach allows drivers to enjoy the experience of driving but allowing the vehicle to take over some functions of driver's duties at times. In this way, the tech works as both guardian and chauffeur.

2022 Lexus The company's flagship sedan will get the technology first.Photo courtesy of Lexus

2022 Lexus LS 500h

On the 2022 Lexus 500h, Lexus Teammate will offer two functions: Advanced Drive and Advanced Park.

Advanced Drive is design to "accurately detect driving conditions to plan and execute acceleration, braking, and steering commands to maintain the vehicle within the lane, follow other vehicles, change lanes, navigate certain interchanges and traffic jams and overtake slower vehicles." It's a Level 2 functionality that "allows for driving on limited-access highways with partial hands-free, eyes-on-the-road operation".

This description makes it sound a lot like the suite of lane keeping, lane centering, and adaptive cruise control technology that Hyundai offers rather than true Level 3 technology that General Motors's Super Cruise delivers.

Lexus will show operation of the technology on a screen with information displayed like this.Photo courtesy of Lexus

Advanced Park operates similar to how the Genesis GV80's hands-free parking assist technology works. The Lexus tech automatically controls steering, acceleration, braking, and gear changes with parallel parking or backing into a parking space. It uses a combination of 360-degree sensing technologies and a bird's eye view display to perform the task while allowing the driver to monitor progress.

"We are very proud of Lexus Teammate, which is the culmination of five years of close collaboration between our technical centers in Japan and the US. We conducted simultaneous development and rigorous testing in both markets with the goal of achieving industry-leading advanced driver assistance functionality," says Derek Caveney, executive engineer at Toyota Motor North America's Integrated Vehicle Systems team.

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