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Ford patent features extendable cargo rails that can also lift heavy objects

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A recently published patent by Ford could revolutionize the way bed rails are used with the press of a button, adding potential complexity to the bedside. 

The “Extendable Rail Assembly for Cargo Bed of a Vehicle” patent was published by the United States Patent and Trademark Office in March. 

An actuator system is used to raise and lower rails between extended and retracted positions, the patent says. 

For example, a flow chart in the patent describes how cargo could be entered into the bed of the truck. An operator selects “Secure Cargo Mode” and the rail system would be raised until it nears the top of the cargo. 

Net or straps could be placed across the bars and over the cargo, the patent says. The operator then could select “Secure Cargo” and the rail system would start to lower to tighten the hold on the cargo. 

“These would lift the bed rails up to form a cabin-height rail that you can use to secure tall cargo, rather than rely on longer straps or laying it flat (where in some cases, you can’t without damaging it),” a MotorTrend article elaborates.

If the cargo is heavy, an operator can place it across the bed rails while they are retracted and use the feature’s “Cargo Lift Assist”. The rails are then able to lift the objects up to 1,320 pounds for the operator, the patent says. 

A pivot bar on top of the rails also can be rotated until it sticks out of the bed to assist with lifting, the patent says. 

“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,” Motor 1 reported. “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.” 

The pivot bars also could be swung across the bed and turned into a cargo rack, MotorTrend reported. 

The Drive reports Rivian offers similar rails but the accessories are fixed and need to be physically removed. 

“Ford’s patent would allow the rails to be raised and lower with the push of a button, used when they’re needed and hidden when they’re not,” The Drive says. “This tech could also be implemented on all Ford pickups, as the actuators would be the same, only the height and length of the rails would need to change. Patents of course aren’t indicative of launching products, but if Ford manages to find a way to debut this technology on pickups, it’s not hard to imagine many customers ticking the option box.”


Featured image courtesy of Vera Tikhonova/iStock; Inside photos from United States Patent and Trademark Office. 

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