Ford submitted a patent application for a brand-new technological system that would enable the company to prevent owners from accessing their vehicles due to unpaid payments. The patent would also make it possible to remotely seize automobiles, including allowing self-driving cars to travel to a repossession lot.
On August 20, 2021, Ford Global Technologies submitted a patent application for “systems and methods to repossess a car.” On February 23, 2023, the application with the USPTO was formally published.
The system would link a computer with the bank or lender, as well as the computer in the automobile or the owner’s smartphone, according to the 14-page patent.
If car owners fall behind on their payments, Ford may turn off amenities like the radio, cruise control, and air conditioning. The audio might be configured to “emit a persistent and unpleasant sound whenever the owner is present in the car,” according to the patent.
Ford would be able to lock the owner out of their own automobile if they had any more late payments.
With the use of the technology, Ford would be able to limit the vehicle’s use to only driving to specific destinations, such as grocery stores, schools, hospitals, or work commutes.
The first computer “may block a functionality of a component of the vehicle or it may place the vehicle in a lockout mode when a response is not received within an a suitable period of time,” according to the patent description. In an emergency, the lockout status “may be temporarily released to permit the vehicle to proceed to a medical facility.”
In the event of payment, the system might unlock the vehicle.
Ford could remotely instruct the autonomous vehicle to drive itself to a repossession lot or to a location where a tow truck would have easy access to the vehicle if enough payments were missed.
Future automobiles might be equipped with a “repossession computer” that would allow Ford to seize ownership of them. The Drive states that this “basically could operate without physical alterations if your car has an infotainment system already set for receiving anything like over-the-air upgrades.”
The patent is still awaiting approval.
Ford stated in a statement that they have no plans to use the eye-opening patent.