New Ford patent suggests self-driving cars repossess themselves : NPR

Ethel Walsh

A diagram incorporated in a new Ford patent that imagines a selection of futuristic strategies to repossess a car.

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office environment

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U.S. Patent and Trademark Business office

A diagram provided in a new Ford patent that imagines a assortment of futuristic ways to repossess a vehicle.

U.S. Patent and Trademark Business office

Think about it really is the in the vicinity of long run, and you have bought a new vehicle with a self-driving manner. But challenging instances hit and you fall behind on financial loan payments – then, a person day you find your car or truck has driven alone away to the repossession large amount.

That is the vision of a new Ford patent published past thirty day period that describes a wide variety of futuristic approaches that Ford car or truck systems could be controlled by a financial establishment in buy to aid in the repossession of a car.

The firm told NPR that the company has no intention of employing the suggestions in the patent, which is one between hundreds of pending Ford patents released this 12 months by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Business office.

“We you should not have any designs to deploy this,” said Wes Sherwood, a Ford spokesperson. “We post patents on new innovations as a usual training course of organization but they are not necessarily an sign of new organization or item plans.”

As repossession practices have altered over time with the arrival of social media and GPS technological innovation, Ford’s patent shows how loan companies may possibly wield wise car or truck capabilities to repossess motor vehicles from delinquent borrowers. It was beforehand documented by the Detroit Cost-free Push.

Of the innovations explained in the patent, titled “Units and Techniques to Repossess a Vehicle,” potentially the most putting is about self-driving automobiles.

A economical establishment or repossession agency could “cooperate with the car pc to autonomously move the car from the premises of the operator to a locale these types of as, for illustration, the premises of the repossession company” or “the premises of the lending establishment,” the patent states. The approach could be solely automatic.

The auto could also call the law enforcement, the patent implies – or, if the loan provider determines the vehicle is not worthy of the value of repossession, the self-driving vehicle could travel by itself to a junkyard.

Semi-autonomous cars that aren’t up to the problem of driving long distances could as an alternative move by themselves a shorter approaches – from personal home (“a garage or a driveway, for case in point,” the patent suggests) to a nearby location “that is additional easy for a tow truck.”

Among the the numerous strategies described in the patent is a gradual disabling of a intelligent car’s functions. Lenders could commence by switching off “optional” options of the vehicle – like cruise handle or the media player – in an energy to cause “a particular degree of discomfort” to the car’s driver.

If the operator continues to be behind on payments, the financial institution could progress to disabling the air conditioner, or use the audio process to participate in “an incessant and unpleasant audio each individual time the operator is current in the car or truck.”

As a final vacation resort, a loan company could disable “the engine, the brake, the accelerator, the steering wheel, the doorways, and the lights of the car,” the patent indicates, or simply lock the doors.

Other proposed options consist of restricting the geographic area in which a motor vehicle can be operated and flashing messages from a lender on a car’s media monitor.

Like lots of huge firms, Ford proactively applies for patents in significant volumes. The repossession patent was 1 of 13 Ford patents printed on Feb. 23 on your own, and 1 of much more than 350 revealed this year to date, according to a review of U.S. patent documents.

Previous year, the enterprise was granted 1,342 patents “spanning a wide variety of tips,” Sherwood reported.

The company’s other the latest patents address a large range of programs: powertrain functions, speech recognition, autonomous parking, redesigns of tailgate attachments and fuel inlets.

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