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