Vehicle repossession is generally a nasty affair and sometimes ends in confrontation. Ford wants to revolutionise repossession and make them somewhat more decent according to a new patent that could let the car repossess itself.
The patent, titled “Systems and Methods to Repossess a Vehicle,” was published recently but was filed in 2021. The patent describes potential scenarios and how repossessions would be carried out, such as locking down a vehicle to prevent the owner from accessing or using it. If autonomous systems are available, the vehicle may be able to drive itself to a more convenient location for tow trucks to pick it up. If we live in a fully autonomous future, commands could be sent to have the car drive itself to a repossession lot, bank, or, in extreme cases, a junkyard if the car is deemed unworthy of repossession.
In the case where the car locks out the owner, an exception would be made for a medical emergency in which the vehicle could potentially travel autonomously to a hospital or ambulance meeting spot. Other exceptions include the possibility of locking out the vehicle only on weekends, so the driver can still access a job and possibly make up those missed payments. Another option is to geofence the vehicle’s range, which means the owner won’t be able to drive too far away from the restricted area.
Not all techniques are aggressive, some subtle methods will be applied such as message delivered to the vehicle or a smartphone to notify the user of the delinquency. In more spooky cases, audio in the vehicle, such as a beeping horn, chime, or radio, could be remotely activated to annoy the operator.
The document investigates various repossession methods, but it is important to note that this is just a patent filing with no indication of implementation. Automobile manufacturers routinely file patents, many of which never become a reality.