This Is Ford's Answer To The GMC Hummer's Crab Walk

Technology / 6 Comments

It combines the best of Rivian, GM, and Ford tech in one system.

The all-new Hummer's crab-walking feature has been one of the major talking points since the car was unveiled in 2020. In layman's terms, the car's four-wheel steering system allows it to drive diagonally and decrease the turning radius. The crab-walking feature is a bit on the gimmicky side, but we can think of specific off-road scenarios where it might be handy.

Ford must agree because it recently filed patents for a similar system to be used on its 4x4s. But Ford isn't just copying Hummer's homework. Its patent also incorporates ideas first seen on the Rivian R1T, although these are, again, expanded upon. The patent application also makes it seem like Ford is taking its own Trail Turn Assist, first seen on the Bronco, to the next level. For the record, Toyota is also working on a similar system.

Ford
Ford

The title of the patent, filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, is 'Crawl Operations for Four-Wheel Steering Vehicles.' The first illustration shows a previous-generation F-150 Raptor, though it's clear from the rest of the images that this system is being developed specifically for an electric car. It clearly illustrates front and rear drive motors, so the most logical truck to get it is the F-150 Lightning.

First, the vehicle needs to be stopped (on loose surfaces). When stationary, the front and rear steering actuators work independently and the center differential is locked. The front axle is then reversed while the rear motor powers the axle forward. With the wheels turning in opposite directions, the vehicle can effectively scoot laterally, as seen in the first and second images below. The car is equipped with a yaw sensor to keep it under control.

USPTO
USPTO
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Interestingly, the wheels aren't traditionally coupled to the steering wheel. They're steered by wire but with another exciting feature. Each of the four wheels can turn independently, as seen below. It doesn't make sense at first, but we can see specific scenarios where having both wheels turned inward would provide additional traction for a second or so. Essentially, this feature could be used as a last-ditch attempt to extricate the vehicle from, er, a ditch or similar. These new systems can be automated or used manually, but only in specific driving modes. You'll only be allowed to access these features in the off-road modes as tarmac would likely destroy the entire system due to increased friction.

As always with new tech, it could be some time before we see this system on a production vehicle, but as The Drive noted when breaking the story, the patent was filed in September 2020 and published on March 31, 2022. Perhaps the next F-150 Lightning will have some interesting updates, but we're 99% sure this is coming to a Ford near you soon enough.

USPTO
USPTO
Ford
Source Credits: The Drive

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2022 Ford F-150 Lightning Driving Front Angle
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