Ford patent could allow company to repossess your car remotely

The patent would give Ford the ability to control several car functions, including power windows, locks, audio, and the autonomous driving system.
The Ford logo.
Posted at 1:22 PM, Mar 03, 2023

Automaker Ford has applied for a patent that could make it a lot harder to avoid having your car repossessed.

The patent application, filed by Ford Global Technologies, details "systems and methods to repossess a vehicle." That includes enabling an autonomous or semi-autonomous vehicle to drive itself away if you aren't up to date on your payments.

The application was filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Feb. 23.

While there may appear to be simple workarounds — like parking your car in a garage or behind a gate — Ford has other solutions.

These can be simple at first, like disabling the car's air conditioning, remote key fob, or power seats and windows.

Another method proposes playing "incessant and unpleasant" sounds through the stereo system. Albeit irritating, it can't be worse than that Rebecca Black song from 2011.

If the owner still fails to pay, Ford could place the vehicle in what it calls "lockout condition," preventing anyone from opening the doors. Camera's on the car would also activate to catch any "undesirable actions" by the owner — like trying to bust the windows.

When all previous methods to obtain payment fail, it's then that Ford could make the autonomous or semi-autonomous car drive itself to the repo lot.

It's worth noting that the filing lists numerous steps that can be taken to avoid remote repossession. For example, it's mentioned that owners who are facing tough financial times could work out a payment plan with their lender. Another option would be a weekend-only "lockout mode," so the owner can still commute to work on weekdays.

So for now, you don't have to worry about your car magically disappearing from your driveway if you missed a payment. The filing indicates Ford seems to just be weighing the idea of self-repossessing cars.

However, as we shift into a more autonomous future, it's certainly something that could be implemented in the future.

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