Here’s How Self-Driving Ford Vehicles May Repossess Themselves Over Missed Payments Someday
Does it ever feel like your car or truck has a mind of its own? This might not just be a figment of your imagination for long. A recent patent reveals Ford is plotting ways for your Mustang or F-150 to stage a mutiny if you miss your payments. This could include randomly shutting off you’re A/C, emitting an “incessant and unpleasant sound” whenever you get in it, and even driving itself back to the dealership or bank.
Will future Fords be able to repossess themselves?
Ford hasn’t confirmed whether its vehicles will someday have the capability to lock you out or drive to a repo agency or dealership if you miss a payment. But it is certainly exploring the possibility. We know this because the United States Patent Office just published a patent document originally filed in 2021. The patent is titled, “Systems and Methods to Repossess a Vehicle.”
This patent explores the possibility of self-driving cars that can make it easier for repo agents to secure them or can even repossess themselves.
Here’s an example: a Ford F-150 or Mustang with a simple “Blue Cruise” driver aid system could potentially remove itself “from the premises of the owner” and to another location “that is more convenient for a tow truck to tow the vehicle.”
Future Fords, with more advanced self-driving systems than Blue Cruise, could take this further. An F-150 that could legally operate on public roads without a human driver’s help could drive itself to “the premises of the repossession agency.”
The automaker is looking at adding a “repossession computer” to future vehicles. If you miss payments, this computer will activate and hijack the car or truck’s other systems. But the patent also explores ways vehicles without a dedicated repossession computer, including existing vehicles, could have some of these same capabilities.
Ford may retrofit existing vehicles to shut down if you miss a payment
The possible systems and methods outlined in Ford’s patent go far beyond repossessing a vehicle. This is because the first tier seems more intended to make driving your Ford so frustrating that you volunteer to make your late payments. Some are comical; others could be downright dangerous.
First, your Ford vehicle would warn you that you were delinquent on your payments. Presumably, it would use the infotainment system to do this, but perhaps it would have an audible message too. If you ignore this warning, your Ford vehicle might start shutting off unnecessary systems: “cruise control, automated window controls, automated seat controls, and some components of the infotainment system (radio, global positioning system (GPS), MP3 player, etc.).”
Ford engineers took the time to outline a second level of shutdowns your vehicle might subject you to. If you continue not to make your payments, you might lose “the air conditioning system, a remote key fob, and an automated door lock/unlock system.”
This level is when your car or truck might hit you with that “incessant and unpleasant sound.” How often? Ford is thinking, “every time the owner is present in the vehicle.”
Obviously, it would be illegal for Ford to allow an F-150 or other vehicle to continue operating while disabling NHTSA-mandated equipment, such as its backup camera and defrost. I’m not entirely sure if driving while your vehicle whines at you to catch up on your payments is considered distracted driving, but that might be an issue future lawmakers must address.
Existing Ford vehicles might also begin to lock you out if you miss payments
The next level, available in even non-self-driving cars, is that the vehicle simply locks you out remotely. Ford has even explored locking the vehicle on weekends but allowing the owner to continue driving it on weekdays. Presumably, so they can still go to work to make money and make their payments.
These first several tiers don’t require the Ford vehicle to have a self-driving system. In fact, the Ford patent states that the vehicle only needs an internet connection. So any existing vehicle that gets over-the-air software updates could be retrofitted with a repossession system.
We’ll just have to wait and see which features Ford puts into production—or future software updates for existing cars.
Next, read about automakers charging subscription fees for basic services or see News Nation investigate Ford’s self-repossession patent in the video below: