The 2023 edition of the Ford Super Duty pickup features a host of new onboard tech, including a head-up display inspired by fighter jets.
The 2020s appears to be the decade of increasingly clever digital in-car tech. Aftermarket car stereos and head units are now super advanced, but even they might not last long if Apple has their way. Then there’s everything else that we’ve grown comfortable with over countless years of car ownership. Stuff like dials, gauges and warning lights; even those are becoming suspiciously sci-fi.
The latest addition to this onslaught of cool car tech is a new Ford head-up display and smart system, developed for its line of Super Duty workhorses. Sounding like something out of the 80s, Ford claims that their new software and design takes inspiration from jet fighters of all things – which, to be fair, feels like it’ll go down well with the Super Duty’s target audience. But anyway, what does ‘inspired by jet fighters’ actually mean?
Inspired By Jet Fighters
It’s one thing to loosely throw around comparisons with other cool machines – car companies do it all the time – but backing those associations up with tangible similarities often proves to be a bit trickier. So, is this new Ford head-up display guilty of baiting interest, or does the whole ‘jet fighter’ thing actually stack up? Well, there does seem to be at least some method to the madness…
“We wanted to create an amazing digital experience for our most-focused truck customers, and our research led us to look at aircraft HUD concepts because of their task-oriented hierarchal structures,” said Mark Sich, Ford digital design manager.
“But because pilots are trained to read information in a very prescribed and technical manner, our implementation needed the interaction to be more intuitive for the driver to immediately understand the context of the information being presented.”
Right. So, it’s jet fighter tech for dummies then.
In all seriousness, the system does actually look pretty useful. Drivers can toggle between three different displays depending upon which sort of task they’re conducting, whether that be traversing an off-road path or hauling a massive trailer as pictured above. In normal mode, the head-up display acts as you’d expect it to in any normal car, offering you visuals such as a speedometer or navigation interface. Tow-Haul Mode adds a tachometer, gear, and trailer brake reading, while Off-Road Mode drops the latter two features in favor of driveline status and pitch & roll updates.
All good stuff. But that’s not everything that the new Super Duty’s onboard system has up its sleeve…
Driver Assist Cameras
If you’re the sort of person that needs a Ford Super Duty in your life, then chances are that you’ve got a pretty tough day job. Ford clearly understands that, so they’ve added a few extra new features (exclusive to their F-Series range) which are designed to make hard work a little less… hard.
Let’s start with the new camera setup. The biggest innovation here is Pro Trailer Hitch Assist. Put simply, this center console option makes use of a rear-facing camera to help drivers align their truck with the trailer that they want to hitch to. Think of it as the rural version of a parking assist cam.
There’s also a Tailgate-Down Camera (positioned on the top of the tailgate), which can help drivers to judge distances when backing up to, for example, a loading dock with the tailgate down. While these features are certainly welcome, it’s the sensors used in tandem with these cameras that will arguably provide the biggest benefit to drivers.
Driver Assist Sensors
Cameras are a great way of making maneuvering big trucks a little bit simpler, but it’s the accompanying sensors which offer a wider expanse of help and guidance.
For a start, Pro Trailer Hitch Assist and the Tailgate-Down Camera are both supplemented by sensors, designed to indicate when you’re aligned correctly with your trailer or loading bay. So, whereas the cameras are the ‘show’, the sensors are the ‘tell’. And sometimes, it’s just a little bit easier to be told, rather than having to work it out for yourself.
There’s also a really neat feature which ensures you’ll never push your Super Duty beyond its limits. Onboard scales can give you not only a real-time estimate of the weight of your intended payload, but also an indication as to whether the truck’s tow hook can handle the trailer weight you’re asking of it.
Then, once you’re on the road, the truck’s sensors will take that information into account when you use the onboard navigation system. Essentially, it’ll ensure that you’re never guided down a path which isn’t suitable for your truck and trailer. Plus, there are blindspot sensors too. These can detect when objects or other vehicles are close by in places you cannot see, and they’ll then relay that information back to an indicator within the truck’s wing mirrors. You could argue that even that feature is a little bit ‘jet-fightery’.
“Copy, we’ve got a bogey approaching from the rear!”
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