A new patent filing hints that future Ford electric trucks could get their own trick maneuverability feature to rival the Rivian R1T and GMC Hummer EV.
The Hummer EV’s crab walk allows the hulking pickup to move sideways, while Rivian is working on a tank turn feature that lets the R1T turn in its own length, and has filed a patent application for a K-turn setup. But Ford’s latest patent filing, first spotted, hints at something even crazier.
Filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in September 2020 and published March 31 of this year, the application is for “crawl operations for four-wheel steering vehicles.” An accompanying image shows a previous-generation Ford F-150 Raptor (which never had four-wheel steering, of course), but with front and rear motors, indicating this system will be used with electric trucks.
Ford four-wheel steering patent image
One thing Ford describes is turning the front wheels in one direction, and the rear wheels in the opposite direction. By applying power, this would allow a vehicle to move sideways left or right on a loose surface, the automaker claims.
Ford doesn’t stop there, though. The automaker also describes steering the wheels individually. That means the wheels on either axle could be turned in opposite directions, with one wheel pointing left and and one pointing right.
Such a system would likely be reserved for off-road use. Ford specifically mentions loose surfaces like snow, sand, and mud, but not pavement. The automaker seems to think this setup could help if a driver gets very stuck, as turning the wheels in different directions could potentially gain traction.
2022 Ford F-150 Lightning cold-weather testing in Alaska
As with all automotive patents, though, there is no guarantee that this elaborate steering system will make it to production. Ford has filed a few truck-related patents recently for things like a trisected tailgate, magnetic bed, and built-in speakers for the F-150 Lightning’s frunk, but none have been confirmed for production.
With rival electric pickups touting tank turns and crab walking, though, it would make sense for Ford to implement something like this on a future off-road version of the Lightning.