Ford has filed a damaged patent for self-driving cars that recover themselves

Fall behind on your payments and your car could just be towed away.

The seizer

In the future, if you ever fall behind on your ridiculously overpriced car payments, it might not be the repo men who come out of the blue. Instead, your set of wheels can just drive itself to the dealership.

And yes, believe it or not, that’s the gist of an actual patent filed by Ford, first spotted by our colleagues at A drive. Originally filed in 2021, the patent, titled “Systems and Methods to Repossess a Vehicle,” was published last week by the US Patent Office.

Although not yet approved, the system described in the patent is about as confusing as it sounds. Ford envisions being able to disable completely different functions in your vehicle, distributed as increasing levels of warning punishment.

First, it could turn off your power windows and lock you out of parts of your infotainment system. If it still doesn’t grab your attention, you’ll then lose air conditioning and the ability to automatically lock and unlock the doors.

This is just the tip of how obnoxious it can get. Ford could make your car make an “incessant and unpleasant sound” every time you get into it and eventually lock you out completely.

Junkyard Jalopy

Don’t worry: this is all just the prelude to the coup de grâce.

If your car has self-driving capabilities, Ford’s system could move your car to a different location without even letting you know, to avoid confrontation with the repo men.

But it could even do away with the repo guys entirely and go directly to the repo agency or any other pre-defined location.

And for some real humiliation, the car could even go straight to the junkyard to be scrapped if the recovery entity thinks it would cost more to repo than it could sell it for. Jerks.

Totally unclear

Does Ford really intend to continue with the patent? Who knows. In fact, Ford itself probably doesn’t even know — it’s not even pursuing self-driving technology anymore right now.

Big companies—especially tech ones—like to file weird, silly, and often dystopian patents all the time for a number of inexplicable reasons that roughly amount to locking in monetizable concepts.

So a car that resets itself can be a pain, but disabling different functions of your car as punishment? Quite possible. After all, some automakers already offer subscription-based features that go offline if you don’t pay.

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