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Automakers love to patent bizarre gizmos all the time just for the sake of protecting outlandish ideas, but a recent Ford patent seems like a genuinely good accessory. The Blue Oval thinks putting retractable rails into the truck’s bed sides would make securing and loading cargo much easier. 

The system works in a simple way. Linear actuators capable of lifting 1,320 pounds each would be mounted to heavy-duty rails, which sit in tracks on either side of the bed. With help from a controller, they could be lifted and raised at will. Stretch a net across the rails and lower them over bulky cargo to secure it in the back. Ford takes it further than that, though.

Since the actuators are so strong, they can be used as a sort of crane with help from another attachment, which rotates off one of the rails to the area behind the truck. This swing arm has a cable on the end, which can be attached to heavy loads. By raising the bed rails, the heavy item can be lifted and then swung into the bed. Pretty clever.

Ford’s patent document was filed back in 2021 but was only published a few days ago. In other words, it’s possible that the automaker has been developing it for a while, if it’s developing it at all. As previously mentioned, Ford may just be preventing others from pursuing the idea as opposed to actually building it into future trucks.

The Dearborn automaker also patents this kind of gizmo often. In the past, it’s patented everything from bolt-on axles which turn a car into a six-wheeler, to a system for driving a truck while standing up. In other words, it’s sometimes hard to tell what may be coming soon, and what’s just something the company wants to protect for the heck of it.

 

 

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