Your Car Might repossess Itself

Posted by Richard on July 20, 2023

Imagine this. You’re running late for work. After you throw on your shoes and stuff your laptop into your bag, you rush out the door, angling for your car. But as you reach for the handle, the car suddenly starts backing up. A moment later, your once reliable ride roars out of sight, leaving you stranded in the driveway. Then it dawns on you: You forgot to make your monthly payment and now your AI-powered car is heading back to the dealership or your lender, perhaps destined for another driver who’s better at staying on top of their bills.

This might sound like something out of a sci-fi flick or a dark comedy, but Ford recently filed a patent for self-repossession systems. Ford claims that they have no intention of actually deploying the system, but just dreaming it up has raised eyebrows.

Essentially, a lender would be able to communicate with a car’s computer systems and self-driving AI. If a driver falls behind on payments, the bank could command the car to turn itself in at a repossession lot. The lender might also instruct the car to contact the police, or if the car is a junker, it could simply drive itself to the junkyard.

For now, cars aren’t supposed to drive themselves long distances unless a human is behind the wheel. This likely means that self-repossessing cars are a way off. But with current technology, a car could drive itself to a nearby spot that’s easier for tow trucks to access. Likewise, a lender might be able to simply shut a car down or turn off certain features, like the radio or air conditioning, until the owner catches up on their payments.