Imagine you are a few weeks late on your car payment and you start your Mustang or F-150 on a hot day only to discover that the air conditioning is not working. If Ford obtains a patent it filed in August 2021 for vehicle repossession technology, owners who fail to pay payments could lose the ability to use key features or even be locked out of their car altogether. The technology, pending approval, will be remotely activated if drivers ignore notifications of overdue payments.
If The Drive reported earlier this week, the patent application, “Systems and Methods to Repossess a Vehicle,” reveals that the system can even direct a vehicle with autonomous or semi-autonomous capability to drive to a tow truck or impound lot if the owner fails to respond to multiple alerts. The patent describes a process that starts with a loss of functionality. If the owner still doesn’t pay, they could be locked out of their vehicle, although emergency unlocking via the car’s built-in camera may still be possible.
The patent also outlines how autonomous or semi-autonomous cars can regain ownership of themselves when they’re not in a garage by driving to a nearby location to avoid confrontation between the possessors and owners.
The Drive notes that while Ford may not be planning to develop its patent any time soon, the idea of your car driving itself away because you missed payment(s) is troubling. Ford is the only automaker trying to patent something like this, but it probably won’t be the last.
For now, however, Ford’s patent is just a proposal to simplify take-back. A Ford spokesman said so New York Post the company has no plans to deploy the technology and that filing patents on new inventions is standard procedure.