Toyota demonstrates ‘hitchless towing’

Toyota is demonstrating an early version of its “hitchless towing” technology in its Sienna minivan. The tech allows a vehicle to autonomously follow a lead vehicle without driver intervention or any physical connection, as though the vehicle is being towed. Here at the American Center for Mobility test track, one Sienna follows another at a set distance using onboard sensors. Toyota says hitchless towing is still very much in the “poof-of-concept” stage, but it could be used with a driver in the second vehicle ready to take over as needed, or potentially with no driver in the towed car (or trailer) at all.

Video Transcript

- What are you [INAUDIBLE]?

- That's a great question. Right now, we are using research grade communication [INAUDIBLE] this equipment, but we're, kind of, brainstorming into the future how we would we to focus in on [INAUDIBLE].

- You're also welcome to go upstairs if you'd like.

- That's a great question. And that's really where the possibilities are endless, right? So just for the sake of [INAUDIBLE].

We're kind of imagining [? the tow changes. ?] So for example, if you're in Michigan wanting to tow one [INAUDIBLE] other states, [INAUDIBLE]. But like, if you're thinking about towing in, say, the state of Michigan and most [INAUDIBLE].

- So I think-- yeah. We're really in the very beginning stages and just kind of exploring, and kind of-- and you know what? Part of this media event is really just exploring that, starting the conversation, right? So it's a great question. And you're right--

- Is there a conversation [INAUDIBLE].

- That's part of-- just even getting the word out there that we're doing this, it's all part of starting a [INAUDIBLE].

- How would a trailer, an actual trailer, work?

- So we're starting, for example, with the two vehicle system. So, like for example--

- [INAUDIBLE]

When you get to the trailer, you're talking about [INAUDIBLE].

That's where I see the biggest issue here, is the danger and the risk and complications that come with like [INAUDIBLE] the car or-- because it's one thing when you're just taking a follow the leader situation to the dealership, but it's another when you have a mobilize [INAUDIBLE]. Does that mean the follow vehicle would have to have power [INAUDIBLE]. Things like that.