There have been viral videos and memes made of Teslas driving themselves back to the automaker if the owner forgets to make their car payments. However it is Ford that is seeking to patent a system that will make the legendary repo man redundant. The system allows a vehicle to repossess itself. If the owner fails to pay, it may enable a car to drive away.
According to the documentation, semi-autonomous vehicles can drive themselves away to a place where they can be easily towed. However, cars with more advanced self-driving tech can return to the lending company or repo lot on their own.
The system, however, has built-in mechanisms for warning the owner before the car dramatically drives away. This involves a series of messages from the owner on outstanding payments. However, Ford makes allowances for being hospitalized, out of the country, or in financial hardship, in which case the car owner can work out a deal with the lender.
There are also workarounds for vehicles without autonomous tech. The patent also addresses cases where the car is parked in a way that makes driving or being towed away impossible, such as when parked inside a locked garage.
In such cases, Ford plans to disable some functions, starting with convenience features like air-conditioning, cruise control, power seats, etc. The car might also try to frustrate the owner by playing irritating and incessant sounds through the audio system.
While this remains a patent application and might never see the light of day, it is interesting to note the direction Ford is thinking about autonomous cars. The company’s Blue Cruise active driving assistance system was recently rated as the best by Consumer Reports.