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Is Big Brother watching us? The premise of George Orwell’s 1949 sci-fi novel 1984 was that the government would constantly monitor everyone by the year 1984. In his book, the government was called Big Brother. Although it didn’t happen quite as soon as Orwell predicted, a new Ford patent could lead us down this path with autonomous vehicles.

What new Ford patent could lead to more overreach and corporate control?

In the case of this Ford patent filing, the control wouldn’t go to Big Brother or the government but to Ford Motor Company. The filing with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is for vehicles that could repossess themselves. Ford filed the patent with the USPTO in 2021, but it wasn’t officially published until February 2023, when The Drive discovered it.

How could a vehicle repossess itself?

Under the new Ford patent, the Ford vehicle would require autonomous technology to drive itself from your driveway to the impound lot or back to the dealership. Imagine waking up and your car is no longer at home because it repossessed itself to the company. That could happen to future drivers.

Should vehicles be capable of self-repossession?

If a consumer has missed several car payments, shouldn’t the company be able to take that vehicle back? When a finance company, in this case, Ford Motor Credit Company, repossesses a vehicle, it’s not typically after the first missed payment. In fact, many finance companies offer ample opportunities for consumers to make payments before beginning the repossession process.

Adding software allowing a vehicle to drive itself to a car lot where repossessed vehicles are located only makes the process easier for the financing company.

Forget hiding your car — it could drive itself back to the dealership

Ford BlueCruise display
Ford BlueCruise display | Ford Motor Company

Car repossession has been an entertaining subject on television with the explosion of reality shows. That said, it’s never a positive experience for the consumer or the financing company. Some consumers try to hide or move their cars to avoid repossession, but that would be a thing of the past if future vehicles could return to the financing company.

Should Ford push forward with this new patent?

Future technology almost always comes with strong opinions on both sides. On the one hand, the consumer might be down on their luck. They’re trying to figure out how to make payments to avoid repossession. On the other hand, most finance companies offer several opportunities to communicate and extend payments. Vehicle repossession is a lose-lose scenario for the consumer and the finance company.

The answer to whether Ford and other automakers should include technology to allow cars to repossess themselves depends on how you feel about autonomous vehicle tech and fiscal responsibility. Where does the overreach end? Is this tech an invasion of privacy, with the consumer as the victim? Others understand the finance company extended a loan with the understanding of regular payments, and those terms aren’t being met.

If self-driving cars can repossess themselves, where does the oversight and overreach of Big Brother end? Are we heading down the path to making 1984 a reality?

Next, check out the frunk of the Ford F-150 Lightning, or learn more about the new Ford patent in this video:

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