An Evil Ghost in the Ford Machine

Cody Good
Ford patent cartoon
Courtesy of TheDrive.com

This week has been a week of losses. First BP’s Statistical Review, now the world takes another darling from us: towing and repo reality TV shows. A moment of silence, please.

What happened: patent filed by Ford has been discovered that describes a system to disable a vehicle’s function for drivers who fall behind on their car payments. Better yet, by using Ford’s autonomous or semi-autonomous vehicle system, the vehicle could drive itself away from the driver for an easier repo.

  • Sadly, filming a vehicle quietly driving itself away won’t invoke the same on-camera altercations between tow truck drivers and Miami Beach vehicle owners.

So how does this system work?

The patent says the system could be installed on any future vehicle with an internet connection and would work in stages. The car won’t run away on you after one missed payment, but over time small luxuries like power windows will lose function.

  • This is already known to be implemented in vehicles with subscription-based services that turn off if you stop paying.

But it gets worse…

If you continue to skip payments, the consequences escalate to loss of infotainment systems or even “incessant and unpleasant sound” when the driver enters the vehicle.

We told you the vehicle can drive itself away, but the best worst part is that if the bank decides the repo will cost too much, the system allows for self-transport to junkyards.

Zoom out: The subscription-based model and its system of don’t-pay-take-away is far from new. However, Ford appears to have taken it to a new level and become so preoccupied with whether they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.