Ford has filed a U.S. patent for a mechanism that could disable specific functions of an automobile or even cause it to drive away if payments are not made on time. The patent, officially named “Systems and Methods to Seize a Vehicle,” was presented to the U.S. Patent Office during the summer of 2021 and was released in late February. The mechanism operates by transmitting a notification to the borrower’s device if they miss a payment. If the borrower neglects the notification, the automobile’s capabilities, such as the heater, air conditioning, or radio, may be deactivated, or the borrower may be locked out of using the automobile. If the borrower persists in disregarding the notification, a repo agent may be dispatched.
If the vehicle has the ability to operate autonomously or semi-autonomously, it could exit a brief distance to a location that is practical for connecting to a tow truck or even drive itself to the impound lot. The mechanism’s computer could also send the vehicle to a scrapyard if the bank deems it not valuable enough to impound.
However, the mechanism is not entirely unsympathetic. It includes exclusions for emergencies, such as driving to the hospital or transporting a patient, and for those who plan to make payments but face job loss or illness. In these circumstances, the automobile could still be operated, but with restrictions.
Despite receiving the patent, it is uncertain whether Ford will implement the technology in its vehicles. Nonetheless, the patent functions to safeguard Ford from rivals developing a comparable system.