Retractable Tow Hitch Prototype and Design

at Impax Auto Safety, LLC

September - December 2018

I worked at a startup to develop and fabricate prototypes of a retractable tow hitch. The purpose was to design a tow hitch that can withstand full class V towing, but also allow retract when not in use. This allows the bumper to do its job of impact absorption without having to remove the hitch, increasing the safety of the vehicle. It is novel in its ways of retraction, providing both transnational and rotational movement in order to increase clearance when the hitch is not in use.

Multiple prototypes were designed in SolidWorks, in collaboration with another team member, and then I 3D printed full-scale prototypes, learning a lot about tolerances and the limits of 3D printing. From this project, I learned that I enjoy working with and designing electro-mechanical systems.

The prototypes were controlled by a Raspberry Pi, where a Python script controlled the motors to retract or extend the tow hitch on the press of a button. I wrote the script and built the circuits that controlled the motors. These prototypes were showcased to potential investors, and used for reference in a continuing patent application.

No descriptive pictures of the full prototype or designs are available at this time, as an NDA is in effect.