This Trailer Is Like A Virtual Reality Headset For A Truck

Truck YeahThe trucks are good!

Car companies typically send their pickup trucks to the mountains of Arizona for pain-tolerance tests. Ford has figured out how to bring the hills to them.

Behold: the dynamometer sled.

The concept is really pretty simple– this trailer gets hooked up to a pickup truck and can then be computer-programmed to add resistance replicating much tougher working conditions than the truck would experience “naturally.”

In essence, it’s a virtual reality experience for the Ford F-250. Ford (and presumably other car companies) have used tech like this for some time but apparently the new Super Duty exceeded the useful limits of the old testing rig.

“In more than 25 years of doing this work, we used the same dyno, which did the job, but the new truck is so powerful we needed new equipment to test out its capability,” Ford product development engineer Jim Sumner said in a press release.

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Illustration for article titled This Trailer Is Like A Virtual Reality Headset For A Truck

The truck he’s talking about is being redesigned (and made out of aluminum) for 2017, but since it’s running the same engines as the current vehicle I think Ford is allowing itself a little hyperbole on pimping the next Super Duty’s power.

Then again, you can always find more power in a diesel engine and added lightness does effectively equal more muscle.

The new “test sled” can put 181 percent more drag on the truck it’s hooked up to than the last one Ford used, and can simulate an incredibly steep 30 percent uphill grade.

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Ford explains that the trailer basically works by running a series of energized electrical coils that act like an enormous magnet. This puts a pulling force of 5,620 pounds on the truck’s drawbar to create the conditions of a climb under load.

One of the company’s representatives told me that Ford will continue to certify their vehicles at places like the famous Davis Dam, which is actually part of the Society of Automotive Engineer’s (SAE) established standard for establishing maximum towing capacities.

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That standard is called SAE J2807, and is a hotly contested subject of conversation in the truck world.

I’m excited to see what the new Super Duty can do in the real world, but this high-tech virtual sled is some pretty exciting tech if you’re even half the dork that I am.

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Jalopnik Staffer from 2013 to 2020, now Editor-In-Chief at Car Bibles

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DISCUSSION

urambotauro
Urambo Tauro

Ford explains that the trailer basically works by running a series of energized electrical coils that act like an enormous magnet. This puts a pulling force of 5,620 pounds on the truck’s drawbar to create the conditions of a climb under load.

How is this magnetic force employed? Seems like it would have to “drag” the brakes to generate that kind of pull. Is that what this is? Some kind of sophisticated electric brake system, that allows for minute, incremental adjustments? I see what appears to be intake ducts in the trailer body, presumably for cooling (the brakes?).