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Ford’s Breadcrumbs technology helps off-roaders find their way home

Ford stitched together existing technologies to create a feature called Breadcrumbs that helps off-roaders find their way back to civilization. It’s available on most of the company’s trucks, including the Ranger and members of the F-Series family.

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Like Hansel and Gretel, the Ranger leaves behind digital breadcrumbs so adventurers can glance at the dashboard-mounted touchscreen to quickly see where they’ve been, and, perhaps more significantly, know where they haven’t been. The technology is relatively simple, according to Ford. It works with navigation data to drop one virtual pin per second when traveling off the beaten path. The reference points show up as little blue dots on the map. Breadcrumbs needs to be manually turned on with a few taps of the touchscreen, so it doesn’t track your real-time location if you want to explore incognito.

The Breadcrumbs feature has been available on Ford trucks sold overseas for years. To enable it, tap your way into SYNC 3’s navigation settings, select the menu labeled “map preferences,” and toggle it on. The dots will automatically appear on the screen. To turn it off, go back to the preferences menu via the navigation settings, and tap the Breadcrumbs button again.

Hardcore off-roaders will appreciate this feature because it shows them the way they came. In a city, there are numerous landmarks, street signs, and other recognizable points of reference to help motorists get around, and even the most basic navigation software can provide reasonably accurate directions from point A to point B. Out in the wilderness, trails often aren’t programmed into navigation systems, and getting out the way you came sometimes makes the difference between making it home before dark, and spending an hour and a half in dense fog looking for a way around a river.

Breadcrumbs is programmed into the Ranger’s navigation system, though the feature is only compatible with the XLT and Lariat trim levels respectively priced at $28,460 and $32,500 before navigation ($995 or $895, depending on the model) enters the equation. Motorists who explore the great outdoors in the entry-level XL model will need to leave actual breadcrumbs on the trail to find their way home. It’s also available on other Ford trucks, including the perennially popular F-150, as long as they’re equipped with the SYNC 3 infotainment system and navigation.

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