Even fleet managers with a vast swathe of vehicles to choose from may find themselves occasionally caught short when it comes to cargo capacity. Moving one-off products or unusual workplace items can be difficult in even the biggest cars and vans.
Consequently, there are times when only a trailer will do. Naturally, the extra weight can impact economy, meaning that fleet managers will have to keep a close eye on any fuel card purchases to ensure all the added value is being extracted.
Towing isn't just a question of efficiency, though; there's also safety to worry about. When a trailer, particularly an oversized one, is behind a vehicle, driver visibility can be reduced. So, in a perfect world, invisible trailers would be the ideal solution. While that may sound a touch far fetched, it's the exact innovation that Land Rover is trying to pioneer.
Going see through
Now, the company hasn't developed some sort of special composite that can't be seen by the naked eye, but they are using technology to improve the driver's field of view. In essence, the system uses cameras to make the trailer appear transparent when looked at in the mirrors, removing a huge blind spot.
"When you are overtaking it is instinctive to check your mirrors, but if you are towing your vision is often restricted with large blind spots. Our Transparent Trailer project is researching how we could offer a view out of the vehicle unrestricted by your trailer, no matter what its size or shape," explained Dr Wolfgang Epple, Jaguar Land Rover's Director of Research and Technology.
The system being developed by Land Rover is actually aimed at improving how trailers are used in general. For example, drivers will be able to assess the state of any cargo in real-time, including whether there's been any temperature changes within an enclosed trailer, or if the weight of cargo is shifting around.
— WIRED (@WIRED) September 2, 2015
Ultimately, the system could be adapted for both personal and commercial use in the not too distant future. In the case of the latter, many business owners are reliant on trailers to shift goods around New Zealand.
Any device that helps make that process a little simpler, while also improving safety from the driver's perspective, should not be overlooked. Land Rover is still carrying out tests of the system, but there can be little denying that the innovation looks set to have myriad benefits.