Get prepared for a future where if you miss a car payment your car may drive off and leave you.
Ford is working on technology that could lead to your self-driving car repossessing itself if you fall behind on what you owe. The Drive discovered a recently published patent application in the USA entitled ‘Systems and methods to repossess a vehicle' that shows plans for an online network to potentially stop an owner from using their car remotely.
The idea is to avoid uncomfortable confrontations between lenders in default and repossession agents and more efficiently enforce repayments. According to the patent application the system would require a network of computers linked to the vehicle, the lending institution, law enforcement and a repossession agency.
The idea isn't as simple as your car driving off when the car company calls it back, instead there are multiple steps that would first warn the driver and then limit the use of the car before it would finally be taken away.
The first step would be for the lender to send a direct message to the car asking for payment. If the request is ignored and payment isn't made the car could be made to transmit “an incessant and unpleasant sound” from the audio system every time the owner tries to drive it. If that's not enough, the car company could remotely disable functions such as the air-conditioning system.
The next step would be to lock the owner out of the car and use the car's cameras and GPS system to let the bank know where it is located. Notably, the patent does include an allowance for the owner to get into the car and drive it in a medical emergency.
Finally, if the owner continues to ignore all these signs, the car could then be summoned back to the dealership or a holding yard without the bank needing to send a repossession agent.
A patent application is no guarantee that this system will be introduced anytime soon, but the detail in the 14-page document does suggest Ford is seriously considering the concept.