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TheJaff 12-02-2019 01:56 PM

Aftermarket trailer backup assist
Hey all, new user here.. Most summers, me and my family are traveling around Sweden in a trailer/caravan, and I've been reading recently about the "Trailer Assist" functionality of Ford and Wolksvagen among others. Not being in the market for a new car, and being a software developer by day, I have started to build an aftermarket solution that I can run using my main phone (in the car) and by fixing a spare (a couple of years older) phone at the back of the trailer. With these two devices I get a video feed when backing up, as well as very accurate estimation and visualization of the hitch angle (thanks to the gyrometers in the phones). Im also thinking of adding the possibility to input a "desired angle" and get steering wheel recommendations based on that (good for the wife)..

Is this all just a crazy idea (I have like 90% of it working already), cause I haven't seen anyone else doing this? Would anyone be interested in trying it out when it's more stable?

R.Wold 12-02-2019 04:23 PM

I think it would sell, so a good idea in that respect. I don't know about the VW system, but I think the Ford system is going to leave a generation of trailer backers dependent on an electronic assistant and helpless when they find themselves in a vehicle with out it. At least your idea is portable.

Alpine36 12-02-2019 04:38 PM

I like your idea and think it has merit.
Fortunately I married a good spotter backer upper helper out'er.

TheJaff 12-03-2019 02:14 AM

Thanks for the encouragement.

I'm a pretty proficient backer upper myself, so this is 50/50 wanting the solution myself, and wanting the challenge of creating it. No matter how smart an application like this can get, you would still have to turn the steering wheel yourself, which over time would add up as practice I guess.

Thanks again for the feedback.

tuffr2 12-03-2019 03:02 AM

This is how good ideas start[emoji106]

TheJaff 12-03-2019 04:27 AM

I'm starting to think you guys are way to nice to provide any valuable feedback ;)

TheJaff 12-05-2019 09:48 AM

Early screenshot from development:

winniman 12-05-2019 09:54 AM

Rvs pretty much all have backup cameras on them. What will this provide that they aren't already seeing in the camera. Sorry to interject something negative into your process, but its has merit.

knightstorm 12-05-2019 10:15 AM

You need to watch the corners of the tow vehicle as well. Itís easy to concentrate on the trailer and forget about the stone wall next to you, especially if itís not high enough to be seen above the hood of your truck.

john221us 12-05-2019 10:25 AM

To me, it would be better to make it work with a specific Android device you can go buy, rather than an old phone. How are they communicating (Wifi?).

On another note, they have cars that can self parallel park. Pushing a button and having it backup to a hitch doesn't seem like a big jump.

I will say, with the backup camera in my truck, backing up to the hitch by myself (no spotter) really hasn't been a big issue. I get out once or twice just to calibrate my eye. Backing the trailer into a tight spot is a bigger issue for me and where I need a spotter.

TheJaff 12-05-2019 12:31 PM

Winniman: first of all, this is not meant for motorhomes or campervans, but for caravans, travel trailers or any old trailer you can think of. Very many car brands have incorporated trailer backup assist technology in their cars, so there seems to be some people who wants/needs it :)

john221us: well, I think that one of the big "wins" with this is that you don't have to buy another gadget, when you probably already have something that works. In that case there is practically zero investment to get started. I'm building this as a web app, so it will work with both iOS and Android devices. And this is not meant as a help when backuping up to the trailer (google Ford Pro-backup assist or VW Trailer Assist)

winniman 12-05-2019 02:25 PM

Every ad I see for the Ford backup assist is a truck putting in a boat at a boat launch. Basically, it is helping you back up straight. Rvs seldom ever need to back up straight. It would normally be cutting into a campsite, or parking area. This would seldom ever be a straight shot, and even if it was, the bulk of the skill would be lining it up correctly in the first place. I cant see any app being able to anticipate carving a trailer into a 90 degree campsite, missing the tree on the left, and the power post on the right. Other than launching a boat, where would you anticipate this being applied. Perhaps you could market it towards tractor trailers. They quite often have to back up straight to approach loading docks.

TheJaff 12-06-2019 01:50 AM

First of all, I guesstimate that the intersection of people who wants/needs this kind of assistance and the people who frequents this site is quite small. :)

That said, I have for example witnessed my father in law trying to get a u-haul back to a straight line after making a turn, with very little success (jackknife, pulls forward, jackknife, pulls forward...) Even though he has been pulling a travel trailer for 20 years.

With steering guidance, maybe it could be used for driving lessons? How to first get the trailer in the direction you want, then keeping the angle constant and so on..

Arch Hoagland 12-06-2019 02:49 AM

Dumb question here...How do you get the phone in the rear to talk to the phone in the front?

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