The car manufacturer Ford would like to make life difficult for people who do not pay their bills properly: A patent application that was filed in August 2021 and has now been published describes a system according to which cars belonging to owners who are in arrears with their payments, initially with several Functional restrictions should harass them until they finally lock them out without further ado. If the owner doesn’t finally sprint, his vehicle should even be able to head for the nearest scrap yard on his own initiative.
It reads like a crazy dystopia, but Ford seems to be serious about this patent application: Anyone who doesn’t pay off their car properly should be harassed by it until they make a sprint. The patent application describes the use of a “return system computer” that is initially intended to cause inconvenience to defaulting car owners through functional restrictions if they ignore corresponding payment requests: For example, air conditioning, radio or GPS can be switched off without further ado. Also, the car may constantly emit an unpleasant noise as long as the driver is nearby.
If there is still no money, the computer can prompt the car to lock the owner out. For example, this could only be done on weekends so the owner can work during the week and earn money for the car. Alternatively, the vehicle can also send its owner into lockdown and set up a “geofence” around their place of residence: This means that the car can only be used within this area.
If you still don’t parry, your car could drive away without further ado: It should be able to head for a seizure office, a bank or a towing yard on its own. The computer could also communicate with a credit institution’s computer, determine the market value of the vehicle and, should the vehicle cost more to repossess, take the car to a junkyard.
The Drive, which first reported on this crazy patent filing, points out that the filing may not necessarily reflect specific plans by Ford to implement such a system in the brand’s vehicles anytime soon. However, you have to have given some thought to the topic in order to invent so many (and so perfidious) sanction options. The fact that Ford is so interested in such a system is also described by the car magazine as “disturbing”.
Where is this going? Imagine if car manufacturers sooner or later gave governments the opportunity to sanction disobedience by car owners, depending on the severity of the offences, with crazy air conditioning, unpleasant beeps, “geofence” and finally a driving ban. What a brave new world we are heading towards…
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