How would you feel if your self-driving car had the ability to drive itself back to the lot if you missed a payment?
It's the subject of a new patent filed by Ford Motor Company. The patent, as reported by Yahoo News, could be used on any future vehicles both autonomous and semi-autonomous.
The autonomous cars would have a repossession computer system that would send the car from one location to a pre-determined location such as an impound lot, lending office, or other if the owner missed a payment.
The semi-autonomous cars would be programmed to move from one spot to another which would make it easier for a tow truck to load the car onto its bed. This patent would also allow a system to be put in place that could simply lock the driver out of their car for missing car payments.
What an...interesting concept.
The Facebook page, TCD Dearborn News, recently shared details of the patent in a post. People were quick to point out some flaws with this plan in the comment section:
My question would be, what if the vehicle is in a garage? Would the vehicle damage itself and property trying to leave to drive to said repossession areas? Then would the owner have rights to sue for property damages caused by the vehicle? I would think so! I think Ford needs to think a little further about this thing... - Bill K
Wake up and the car is gone. Call authorities who tell me it drove itself to the scrapyard and is no more. Call Ford and find out my account is in good standing and it was an update glitch and they have since fixed it. So what about my car I ask? Sorry Ford is not responsible for software glitches. - Steve B.
I won’t be surprised if hackers take advantage of this feature and impound the cars for themselves. - AJ R.
Then we'll have country singers singing songs about how their truck ran off on them in the middle of the night. - Kyle F.
Mostly, the comments seemed to echo the same thought: this will drive (no pun intended) sales away from Ford. Who wants a car that might drive off on its own leaving the driver stranded and inconvenienced?
Does Ford Have Self-Driving Cars?
At this moment, I don't think so. Everything I can find, even from Ford's own website, points to the commitment and plan to build self-driving cars but, there's no option to purchase one.
In fact, an article from October of 2022 seems to indicate that Ford was leaning away from self-driving cars in favor of something they called BlueCruise.
BlueCruise would allow drivers to be more hands-free during long-distance driving. Read more here.
So, why does Ford need to file a patent to punish future customers for a missed payment on a car that might not ever exist? Personally, I find the entire idea perplexing.
For now, your current Ford vehicle should be safe from any homing beacon beckoning it back to the dealer. For now.
Speaking of cars, did you know that the UP is used to test new vehicles? Check it out: