Vehicles with electronics are nothing new however, as superior tech like AI and ‘all the time linked’ programs start to be built-in into automobiles, we’re starting to see the automotive trade take a look at how far it could push these things. Essentially the most egregious latest instance has been BMW’s makes an attempt to nickel-and-dime prospects of its costly vehicles with microtransactions (which has reasonably brilliantly led to automotive homeowners pirating their very own automobiles’ options), however now the Ford Motor Firm says hold my beer.

Ford utilized for a US patent in August 2021 which was printed final week on February 23 (thanks, TheDrive). It is known as “Programs and Strategies to Repossess a Car” and goes into element on a proposed system that might enable Ford, in circumstances where prospects are behind on funds, to progressively crimp the automotive’s performance and make the proprietor’s life disagreeable earlier than, in excessive eventualities, the automotive simply… drives itself away to a repossession lot or a dump.

Sure: Sooner or later, if Ford says so, you could nicely see your automotive simply take off.

The patent says that the system will implement an escalating collection of steps, and we’re about to get a bit of dystopian right here. If an proprietor begins to overlook funds on their automotive, Ford’s system will start to disable “performance of a number of parts of the automobile” which incorporates virtually every thing from window controls to the god rattling engine. 

“Each time the proprietor is within the automobile” the system can start to play an “incessant and unsightly sound”

The automobile will warn its proprietor in phases and strip-back performance earlier than driving away. Initially the system will goal minor options like “cruise management, automated window controls, automated seat controls, and a few parts of the infotainment system (radio, world positioning system (GPS), MP3 participant, and so on.)” If the proprietor nonetheless would not pony up the dough, then the automotive will start to close off air con, distant key performance, and automatic locking.

This one deserves a paragraph all its personal. In the event you’ve reached this stage, then “each time the proprietor is within the automobile” the system can start to play an “incessant and unsightly sound”. Of all of the absurd concepts in all of the automotive trade in the intervening time, doing that to somebody who’s presumably making an attempt to drive a automotive often is the most ridiculous and, if ever carried out, is definitely going to trigger accidents.

What, the noise did not put you off? Time to lock you out of your automotive then sonny. “The repossession system pc might disable the door lock mechanism,” reads the patent, “thereby putting the automobile in a lockout situation and stopping an individual from coming into a cabin of the automobile.” Apparently it should do that solely on weekends initially, and can embody performance to permit use in emergency conditions resembling, Ford says, a coronary heart assault. Apparently the automobile’s digital camera and software program will be capable of detect this. So in case you’re locked out, simply pretend a coronary heart assault I assume. What’s it gonna do, take your pulse? (Do not get any concepts Mr. Ford).

So by this stage your automotive’s been stripped of most performance by the producer, you have survived the noises, you have been locked out and pretended to die to get again in and in case you nonetheless do not make funds then that is where our good good friend AI is available in for the precise repossession. Any Ford automobile with autonomous driving capabilities might be able to “[moving] the automobile from a primary spot to a second spot that’s extra handy for a tow truck to tow the automobile [or moving] the automobile from the premises of the proprietor to a location resembling, for instance, the premises of the repossession company.”

And if the repossession company says the automotive is not price the price of the repossession, then it will drive itself straight to the junkyard (which seems like a Pixar film ready to occur).

Despite the fact that that is actually the satan’s work, there are some crucial caveats right here. This method is likely to be hellish, however it’s additionally solely proposed to be used on individuals who miss funds. Factor is that peoples’ circumstances change, and stuff like automotive funds might have re-negotiating, which seems like one thing that must be completed by human company reasonably than your automotive turning off the aircon.

The second factor is that it is a patent. It exhibits intention, however no Ford automotive presently has this technique put in (except it is in some Ford analysis lab, which come to think about it…). The patent goes into sufficient element that Ford clearly has completed a variety of work on it, although, and firms like this do not pour R&D cash into such programs with out aspiring to finally make use of them.

The nightmare state of affairs is that future vehicles include an in-built supplier making an attempt to upsell you on in-built options and, in case you fall behind on funds, repossess themselves. Ford is presently the one automotive firm to have prompt such a system, nevermind attempt to patent it, so this may increasingly not occur however… one thing tells me that executives and shareholders at automotive corporations are going to love this very a lot. Welcome to the way forward for automobile possession: First your personal automotive drives you to distraction then, one night time, it drives itself away.