Ford has patented tech that will disable your car and even drive it away if you miss payments.
Connected cars are being taken to a new level, as Ford has patented technology that will see your Ford F-150 or Explorer disabled or even use self-driving technology to drive right out of your life if you miss a repayment.
Filed with the USPTO and discovered by CarBuzz and The Drive, the patent goes to great lengths detailing how such a technology might work, highlighting that owners typically become uncooperative when the time comes for a vehicle to be repossessed, with many hiding vehicles away, refusing to answer the door, or pulling any number of other stunts to avoid their car being hauled away.
Ford plots several ways in which a repo could be handled. The first is that when payments are defaulted upon, the over-the-air (OTA) capabilities of the vehicle would enable a bank or other financial institution to communicate about the missed payment, and one option suggests certain features may be disabled - like the radio or climate control, for example. In another embodiment, the vehicle might actually brick itself - what Ford deems a 'lockout' condition - which would stop it from being driven. This would enable repo officers to collect the vehicle without it being moved away by the owner.
Because emergencies happen and Ford doesn't want to be the bad guy in such an instance, emergency scenarios would re-engage the vehicle's drivability. It's likely that a 911 call would allow the 911 operator to authorize emergency access to the vehicle, permitting it to drive to a hospital or rendezvous point with an emergency vehicle.
But things get interesting if such a system is installed on a car with autonomous driving functionality. In such instances, the patent makes provision for the vehicle to be able to drive itself away, literally repossessing itself by navigating to the yard of a repossession agency or, at the very least, to a place where it can easily be towed.
A further embodiment of this technology would allow the financial agency to decide upon the financial viability of the repossession, and in the instance that it is not viable, the car could pilot itself to a junkyard.
This, of course, would be a worst-case scenario and would only happen after multiple warnings and inconveniences with various features disabled as a means of coercing you into making payments.
Still, we can't help but see the humor in the situation, especially after all the jokes about autonomous vehicles leading to a country music singer one day lamenting that his truck left him.
Theoretically, any vehicle with an active internet connection and OTA capacity could implement such technology. In the next few years, just about every new car on the market would be susceptible.
What was once a joke leveraged at Tesla owners may now become a reality if Ford can implement this patent, but we can't help but see some problems occurring. For example, if a computer marks someone as having defaulted on their payment, even if they didn't, they may be needlessly locked out.
We've already seen computers do strange things, like the Escalade-V owner whose warranty was voided after refinancing his car despite maintaining ownership. In another instance, a Tesla Model 3 was assigned to a new owner in Europe after a Tesla employee typed in an incorrect VIN, effectively giving control of the Model 3 to someone thousands of miles away. That's not even considering the possibility of cyberattacks, which the feds have warned will increase.
These errors happen, so if Ford implements this technology, it would need multiple fail-safes to ensure proper operation.
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