Valeo Previews 'Invisible' Trailer System at CES 2019

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

With so many bewildering and downright fantastical automotive concepts premiering at the Consumer Electronics Show this time of year, it’s easy to feel downtrodden by the industry’s mobility shenanigans. Thankfully, CES still plays host to some genuinely interesting tech that might actually make your life a little easier.

For French automotive supplier Valeo, that meant showcasing a system that utilizes cameras and some very careful framing to effectively see through a towed object. Called the XtraVue Trailer system, the technology works in a similar fashion as the nanotechnology invisibility blanket under development by the U.S. military — just much simpler.

Rather than use an elaborate projective fabric that records and mimics whatever’s behind it, à la Predator, XtraVue uses traditional cameras fixed to the back of the vehicle and accompanying trailer and projects a composite image onto a large screen that’s easily visible to the driver.

By keying out areas obscured by the trailer, Valeo can effectively render it “invisible” to the person behind the wheel, creating downright sublime rearward visibility. Still, similar systems already exist on the market. Companies like Rear View Safety Inc. already offer dozens of solutions for those wanting a better sense of their surroundings whilst towing. What makes Valeo’s setup a little different is that its system creates a seemingly complete image when properly set up, even providing a basic outline of the trailer using a screen-within-a-screen effect.

XtraVue is supposed to work directly with a vehicle’s standard backup camera, using a secondary camera at the back of the trailer to fill in the gaps keyed out by the imaging software. We imagine the supplier wants to work directly with automakers to get this into factory vehicles, rather than take the aftermarket approach. However, the current demonstration does not have the system integrated into the car’s infotainment system.

Distortion will likely become a problem the larger and longer a trailer gets, at which point you might want to consider a multi-camera setup. But XtraVue looks impressive when used on a smaller rig. Based on footage provided but the supplier, we doubt spacial issues would only crop up in extremely tight quarters, but that’s a pretty inconsequential gripe considering the system will absolutely make towing safer.

Valeo also brought a couple of autonomous concepts to CES. One, a vehicle dubbed “Drive4U,” uses the company’s ultrasound, cameras, radars, and LiDAR systems in conjunction with artificial intelligence. While self-driving remains Drive4U’s ultimate goal, the supplier is also working on ways to control it from a distance. One of those is a remote control that syncs with the car’s functions, but an interesting alternative exists in the company’s Voyage XR, which creates a sort of virtual driving experience.

With Voyage XR, users can pop on a VR headset and manually control the car. It’s a fascinating concept, offering a potential glimpse into our very sedentary future.

Call us old fashioned if you must, but we’re slightly more fond of the invisible trailer idea.

[Images: Valeo]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • UnoGeeks Thanks for the informative article. Unogeeks is the top Oracle Integration Cloud Training Institute, which provides the best Oracle Integration Cloud (OIC) Training
  • Varezhka And why exactly was it that Tesla decided not to coat their stainless steel bodies, again? My old steel capped Volant skis still looks clean without a rust in sight thanks to that metal vapor coating. It's not exactly a new technology.
  • GIJOOOE “Sounds” about as exciting as driving a golf cart, fake gear shifts or not. I truly hope that Dodge and the other big American car makers pull their heads out of the electric clouds and continue to offer performance cars with big horsepower internal combustion engines that require some form of multi gear transmissions and high octane fuel, even if they have to make them in relatively small quantities and market them specifically to gearheads like me. I will resist the ev future for as long as I have breath in my lungs and an excellent credit score/big bank account. People like me, who have loved fast cars for as long as I can remember, need a car that has an engine that sounds properly pissed off when I hit the gas pedal and accelerate through the gears.
  • Kcflyer libs have been subsidizing college for decades. The predictable result is soaring cost of college and dramatic increases in useless degrees. Their solution? More subsidies of course. EV policy will follow the same failed logic. Because it's not like it's their money. Not saying the republicans are any better, they talk a good game but spend like drunken sailors to buy votes just like the libs. The sole function of the U.S. government is to take money from people who earn it and give it away to people who didn't.
  • CecilSaxon Sounds about as smart as VW's "SoundAktor"