Ford F-150 getting trailer backup assist feature that takes your hands off the wheel

Ford’s adding a new twist to towing.

A unique feature launching on the 2016 F-150 allows a driver to steer a vehicle in reverse with a trailer attached using a knob on the dashboard to control its direction while the truck automatically turns the steering wheel. It’s called Pro Trailer Backup Assist.

After putting a checkerboard sticker on the trailer tongue for the rearview camera to use as a reference, and entering a few measurements to help it determine the size of the trailer and where it’s axles and pivot point are, you simply activate the system, turn the knob in the direction you want the trailer to go, then operate the gas and brake pedals while it manages the steering.

It’ll keep things straight as well as turn, spinning the wheel back and forth as necessary to keep it on track and avoid jackknifing, and operates only at appropriately low speeds. The system can store information for up to 10 trailers at a time.

Pro Trailer Backup Assist has been in development for several years, and was first teased on the Ford Atlas Concept that was unveiled in 2013, which previewed the style and some of the features on the all-new F-150 that was launched the following year.

Pricing hasn’t been announced, but the system will be offered as an option on all F-150 trim levels when the new trucks hit showrooms at the end of this year.