Ford Wants Its Cars to Be Able to Repossess Themselves

Imagine watching your car drive away from you when you miss a payment. 

That scenario looks to be part of how Ford (NYSE: F) imagines efficiency in the future. The American carmaker has filed a patent for technology that would allow self-driving cars to lock their drivers out and drive themselves away when their owners fail to keep up with the payments.

The patent application, which was filed in 2021 but published just last week as it was first reported by The Drive, shows a series of punitive responses for delinquent owners. The patent describes a multi-step process facilitated by a “repossession system computer.” 

READ: Ford Earmarks $3.5 Billion For New EV Battery Plant in Michigan Thanks to Generous Government Subsidies

The process begins with alerts or warnings from the lender or dealership that is received by the car’s infotainment system, and then if the owner is still unable to make the payment, it would progress to having some functionalities and features disabled like the GPS, cruise control, the automated windows, and — oh no — air conditioning to cause “a certain level of discomfort” to the drivers and passengers.

From there, it just gets more interesting. The system could emit an annoying sound, much like the beeping when a seatbelt is left unfastened. Then, suppose that still doesn’t work. In that case, the car could lock the owner out — but maybe just on weekends so it won’t interfere with the owner’s work life so they can still “make payments towards the vehicle” — or establish a geofence in the perimeter of the owner’s home and limit car use only in that area.

Actual diagram from the patent application | Via Ford

The most extreme part of the process would be the car driving itself away from the owner to an area where a tow truck can conveniently pick it up. The patent application also talks about the possibility of the car driving itself to a repossession agency, a lending firm, or an impound lot — whichever suits the case or was previously programmed into the car.

The repossession system could also go on ahead and compute the car’s value to weigh whether it’s worth repossessing. If it finds that it’s not, it could drive itself to a junkyard. Harsh.

The Drive reports that so far, Ford is the only carmaker to apply for a patent for this kind of autonomous driving.

Information for this briefing was found via the Drive, Insider, Twitter, and the sources and companies mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to the organizations discussed. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.

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