Ford is patenting a new, game-changing capability for its F-150 trucks

Joining Toyota and Rivian in offering a "tank turn."
Can Emir
Ford F-150 Lightning XLT.Ford

U.S. carmaker Ford’s patent for its own tank turn capability for its electric pickup F-150 Lightning has published on April 21 on the United States Patent Office’s website with the serial number 0118979. The patent was filed on October 16th, 2020.

This makes electric vehicle maker Rivian and Japanese manufacturer Toyota won’t be the only companies that make vehicles with the ability to perform tank turns.

In the patent application called "Methods and apparatus to perform a tank turn," engineers at Ford describe clockwise, and counterclockwise tank turns using a vehicle with two electric motors.

Ford’s patent application for F-150’s tank turn ability describes; “Methods, apparatus, systems, and articles of manufacture are disclosed to perform a tank turn. An example vehicle includes a first wheel and a second wheel, the first wheel located on an end of a first axle, the second wheel located on an end of the second axle, the end of the first axle opposite to the end of the second axle, a first suspension coupled to the first wheel, a second suspension coupled to the second wheel, and a controller to drive the first axle in a first direction, drive the second axle in the second direction and decrease a first suspension load of the first suspension and a second suspension load of the second suspension.”

What is a tank turn?

Tank turn ability means turning on the spot, like a tank. There are a few methods to perform tank turns. In some cases, four-wheel steering can come into play, but it takes extreme steering angles to make that happen. The other way is to force one side of the vehicle to move in the opposite direction of the other. To be precise, one side goes forward while the other goes in reverse. 

While F-150 Lightning won’t come with a quad-motor setup, in order to be able to perform a tank turn, Ford will need to resort to driving one wheel on each axle, applying the brakes to hold the opposite wheel. To make a clockwise turn, the left front wheel rotates forward, the right rear wheel rotates in reverse, and the two front wheels are braked.

Japanese carmaker Toyota also has an idea for tank turns. According to the patent application of Toyota, the vehicle with all four wheels pointing at a 45-degree angle and again pointing completely sideways.

Toyota’s patent describes lateral (sideways movement), oblique travel (on an angle), and on-the-spot rotation. The manufacturer’s application says that the “smooth and safe operation of vehicles is realized by vehicles and pedestrians moving in a coordinating manner, which is premised on the assumption that the movement of each vehicle and pedestrian is predictable.”

We still haven’t seen any mass-produced vehicles that are able to perform tank turns, but it would be both cool and practical to drive a vehicle that can.

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