Ford Wants To Make Self-Driving Cars That Will Repossess Themselves Without Drivers

The machines are fighting back!

Ford Wants To Make Self-Driving Cars That Will Repossess Themselves Without Drivers

The idea of a self-driving car is fun on paper – until you miss a car payment and your car decides to start messing with you. That might be the future of motoring if Ford has anything to do about it.

Last week it emerged that the American auto maker has filed a patent with the US Patent Office titled “Systems and Methods to Repossess a Vehicle,” which describes a somewhat hilarious yet seriously troubling set of systems designed to make the lives of anyone who misses a car payment worse.

Initially, the car would simply use its infotainment system or smartphone app to send you alerts and reminders – so far, so what. But it gets worse. Then, the car would start disabling certain features, like the radio, GPS, cruise control, seat controls, windows and other features which “may cause a certain level of discomfort to a driver and occupants of the vehicle,” the patent describes.

If that doesn’t work, it’ll then disable the air conditioning and your keyfob. In an extra devious touch, it will then cycle through disabling different components, disabling some one day and others the next.

After that, the car will activate “an audio component in the vehicle (such as, for example, a radio, a beeper, or a chime)” which will be “incessant and unpleasant.” Ford’s open door chime is already indelibly scarred in the minds of anyone who owns a Ford – imagine hearing that non-stop…

A diagram from the Ford patent explaining how a neural network could communicate between a self-driving car, bank, police and repo agency in order to disable a car’s features. Image: Ford

But we’re not done yet! The car will then straight-up lock you out. The patent describes how initially, it could just lock you out only on weekends, or it could geofence you so you can only do essential trips, like grocery runs or taking the kids to school.

It even describes how you could submit images to the car’s external cameras to prove that there’s a medical emergency and you need the car to get to a hospital, giving a heart attack as an explicit example. That’s the future, friends: bargaining with your car to let you drive to the hospital.

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Finally, the patent describes how a self-driving car could simply repossess itself – or drive itself to a safer location to help repossessors tow it easier or to avoid a confrontation. The car could use its onboard cameras to help repo companies find the car, too.

The funniest bit is that the car could also work out if it’s even worth being repossessed, and instead could just drive itself to a junkyard if the computer reckons it’s not worth the hassle.

A wrecked Ford Mustang Mach-E electric SUV. Image: @azfullsizebronco

In short: it’s very grim, and very Big Brother. While obviously, we don’t condone people not paying off their cars, the idea that your car would actively start f***ing with you just because you missed a payment is incredibly dystopian.

“It may not be something the automaker plans to actually develop any time soon… [but] the fact that Ford has any level of interest in this sort of thing, whether it’s just for the sake of protecting an idea or not, is concerning,” The Drive relates.

We reckon a more effective system would be for the car to make sure the only music you could listen to was Nickleback. If you do that, you won’t have any problems with people making their payments…