Automotive

Transparent trailer tech the highlight of GMC's camera-happy 2020 Sierra HD

Transparent trailer view combines the outputs of the reversing camera and the trailer-mounted rear view camera to let you look through your trailer as if it's not there
Transparent trailer view combines the outputs of the reversing camera and the trailer-mounted rear view camera to let you look through your trailer as if it's not there
View 18 Images
2020 GMC Sierra HD: incorporates transparent trailer tech
1/18
2020 GMC Sierra HD: incorporates transparent trailer tech
Frontal camera projection
2/18
Frontal camera projection
Rear vision mirror
3/18
Rear vision mirror
Top down and reversing camera view
4/18
Top down and reversing camera view
Trailer hitch view
5/18
Trailer hitch view
Trailer hitch closeup
6/18
Trailer hitch closeup
Trailer-mounted camera view
7/18
Trailer-mounted camera view
Trailer mounted camera view in the middle of left/right wing mirror split projection
8/18
Trailer mounted camera view in the middle of left/right wing mirror split projection
Trailer interior camera view
9/18
Trailer interior camera view
Tray view lets you see how things are travelling in the back.
10/18
Tray view lets you see how things are travelling in the back.
Transparent trailer view combines the outputs of the reversing camera and the trailer-mounted rear view camera to let you look through your trailer as if it's not there
11/18
Transparent trailer view combines the outputs of the reversing camera and the trailer-mounted rear view camera to let you look through your trailer as if it's not there
Split view showing the output from cameras on the wing mirrors
12/18
Split view showing the output from cameras on the wing mirrors
Yet another reverse view shows the trailer hitch and trailer
13/18
Yet another reverse view shows the trailer hitch and trailer
Top down view for tight manoeuvring 
14/18
Top down view for tight manoeuvring 
Precision positioning view
15/18
Precision positioning view
The 2020 Sierra HD Denali
16/18
The 2020 Sierra HD Denali
The 2020 Sierra HD Denali with trailer in tow
17/18
The 2020 Sierra HD Denali with trailer in tow
The 2020 Sierra HD Denali
18/18
The 2020 Sierra HD Denali

GMC has introduced its new Sierra HD, which will offer drivers no less than 15 different camera views to help maneuver the giant truck – and one of them will let you look right back through the trailer you're towing, allowing you to see what's behind you as if the trailer wasn't there at all.

This isn't the first time we've seen something like this – Land Rover had a transparent trailer concept back in 2015, and a range of auto manufacturers have been using all sorts of similar technologies to help people see through their metal cages. Samsung created a transparent truck concept to help people work out when to overtake safely, a Japanese team created transparent back seat projections to help with reversing, and Land Rover has experimented with transparent bonnet technology to help drivers place their wheels precisely in tricky off-road situations.

But this is the first time we've seen it on a production vehicle, and the 2020 GMC Sierra HD seems to be a terrific platform for it, since it's got both the gargantuan physical bulk and enormous towing capacity (more than 30,000 lb/13.6 metric tons) to make such an exercise worthwhile.

2020 GMC Sierra HD: incorporates transparent trailer tech
2020 GMC Sierra HD: incorporates transparent trailer tech

The HD has cameras all over it, and its ProGrade Trailering system offers drivers up to 15 different camera projections through a beefy 15-inch screen that also feeds you navigation, speed and incline information. There are top-down views, trailer hitch views, frontal projections, left/right wing mirror composites and regular reversing cameras.

But if you get yourself an optional extra camera or two, you can stick it on the back of whatever you're hauling, and combine that with the regular reversing camera to get yourself a clean view of the road behind you as if the trailer's not there. Using a picture-in-picture type technique, you can line it up such that your trailer becomes transparent.

You could also choose to stick an extra camera back in your horse float to see how Shadowfax is doing back there, or in the interior of your camper trailer so you can see if you left a bottle of wine open and it's doing some redecoration.

Frontal camera projection
Frontal camera projection

It's a neat idea, the sort of thing that could easily become a staple in the segment going forward if it's implemented well enough. And we'll admit it does make us wonder if there's going to be a VR/AR helmet one of these days that'll make your whole vehicle transparent, like the one on the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter. It probably won't happen, but it's fun to think about.

The 2020 GMC Sierra HD goes on sale in late summer in the United States.

Source: GMC

3 comments
toyhouse
I'd probably drive right off a cliff looking at all those camera angles.
HighlanderJuan
This is obviously a great added feature to any truck used for any purpose, including towing trailers. Cars should be equally equipped, even if camera support is offered as an upgrade. Having said that, I find it interesting that, with all of the cameras being set up and used, there appear to be none looking ahead with integrated speed, direction, and time of day messaging. Dashcams do that. Dashcams are also used to record and/or prevent theft. Dashcams also save (record) video information for certain periods of time, useful for those times where the car/truck is involved in an accident, or is pulled over by a cop for speeding, etc. Does the owner of a 2020 GMC truck have to buy dashcam(s) also? Why do cops have forward looking dashcams? Are there insurance cost benefits for having dashcams? If not, why not?
ljaques
Cameras are good, making it easier for lesser (truck) drivers to handle large trailers. But I want to see the transparent truck which allows the following vehicles to know when it's safe to pass. That would save lives, not just fenders.