Remember the scene in Minority Report where Tom Cruise’s self-driving car tries to automatically take him in for a crime he hasn’t committed yet? Ford isn’t trying to do that, necessarily, but it’s closer than I’d like.
According to a report from The Drive earlier this week, the U.S. auto-maker filed a patent in late 2021 (before being published just last week) that would allow future Ford vehicles to inconvenience their owners in myriad ways in the event of missed car payments.
Vehicles with onboard computers and/or internet connections would theoretically be able to take advantage of these features, none of which have been implemented in any real-world scenarios yet.
For instance, if you miss a payment, your car could disable cruise control, radio, or GPS. Miss another payment and the air conditioner goes, too. Keep missing payments and, eventually, your car could actually relocate itself from your home to a spot where it would be easier for the repo people to pick it up. That is, if the car has any self-driving features. The patent said the vehicle would only need to be “semi-autonomous” for that particular feature to work.
Of course, as with everything to do with patent filings, it’s worth pointing out that Ford might never actually do any of this. Companies file these patents so nobody else steals their ideas, not because they necessarily have a specific plan to implement said ideas. Still, anyone who wants a Ford vehicle in the future might want to at least think about this.
Either way, at least we got a nice excuse to think about Minority Report for a minute.