Ford has filed a patent for a theoretical technology that would, among other things, allow its cars to regain control if a driver neglects to make a car payment.
In the future, that is, the company’s cars may return to sale on their own if their owner did not pay on time.
The US Patent Office has published a company application titled “Automotive Recovery Systems and Methods,” which has not been officially accepted.
According to the document, if for example a couple misses a payment on their self-driving car it could trigger a “multi-step recovery process”, as it is described. First, it will receive a notice of violation through the infotainment system screen. If the driver did not respond to this notification, he would receive a second one. If he did nothing even then, the punishments would begin.
The company proposes various early penalties for offending car owners. For example, a car that can turn off its air conditioning, automatic key, GPS or music system. Another idea in the patent filing is to “activate the audio feature in the vehicle … to produce a continuous and unpleasant sound whenever the owner is in the vehicle.”
If horrible noise and/or reduced performance and comfort don’t convince the car owner to pay, the repossession process will continue to lock the driver out of his car. Ford notes that this “lockdown” could be implemented in different ways—perhaps allowing people to access their vehicles in the event of a medical emergency or return to work by simply restricting travel outside certain areas or times.
If that doesn’t work, Ford has filed for a patent for technology that would allow its cars to drive themselves. The company proposes versions of this concept that can work with semi-autonomous and fully autonomous vehicles. In the first case, the car would be driven a short distance to be easily towed by the repo company. In the end, the car could drive itself to the dealer it was bought from or to a suitably nearby garage. The company also includes protection against owner lockout (ie, locking the car in a locked garage) that would automatically alert the police.