Ford intends to patent a repo system that can drive your car back to the lender … or the junkyard

In short: A recently published Ford patent application outlines some of the more extreme systems and procedures the automaker can implement when attempting to recover a vehicle. The application, which was filed in August 2021 but published days ago, says that vehicle owners can default on payments for various reasons and can lead to repossession. This process sometimes erupts into confrontation, so Ford wants to provide a solution to address the situation.

In short, Ford has defined a multi-step repossession system that can escalate in severity if payment notices continue to be ignored.

The lender, for example, can begin to disable the second level optional use components such as the air conditioning system, remote key fobs or the automated door lock / unlock system. Disabling these components “may cause an additional level of discomfort to a driver and vehicle occupants,” the patent reads.

The system can even command the radio to play a “relentless and unpleasant sound” every time you get into the car with a constantly varying pitch, tone, rhythm, beat and volume. If that doesn’t get the owners’ attention, the car could lock the user out of the cabin – perhaps on weekends, allowing the car to be used on weekdays to avoid “harmful which is the car owner’s livelihood and interferes with the owner’s ability to pay for the car.”

Assuming there is no resolution in front of the payment, the lender may choose to impound the vehicle. If the autonomous capability is autonomous, the recovery system can move the vehicle to a location that is more convenient for a tow truck to retrieve it. Optionally, the repo system can autonomously drive the car directly to the recovery agency.

In an even more unlikely scenario, the repo system can determine the car’s value to determine whether it makes financial sense for the lender to acquire it. Otherwise, the car can be taught to drive itself to the junkyard.

The examples presented here only scratch the surface of the situations and solutions presented in Ford’s patent. There’s no guarantee that Ford will implement any of these methods in future vehicles, but we do know that these are at least conceptual options that most of us haven’t considered yet.

What are your thoughts on the matter? Will Ford’s patent help keep repo drivers harmless? Are there enough fail-safes in place? For example, what happens if the AC is disabled on a hot summer day and the driver has a preexisting health condition, or there are small children in the car?

Image credit: Ford by Jessy Smith, Past Due by Nicola Barts, Tow Truck by Joshuer

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