The automotive industry has long promised exciting advancements with autonomous vehicles. However, skeptics have raised concerns about the reliability of embedded artificial intelligence and the risk of hacking.

Despite these concerns, Ford Motor Company has introduced a new feature that could send shivers down the spine of car owners. Ford has filed a patent to cut off the heating or any other system of a car in the event of delayed loan payments. This feature could even extend to the repossession of a self-driving vehicle.

Late payment notification leads to action

In the event of delayed loan payments, the car owner will receive notifications from the lender. After several reminders, the lender may begin to deactivate some systems, such as the radio or air conditioning.

If the owner continues to ignore the notifications, the system may progress to play a bothersome sound each time the owner is present, and ultimately, lock the car entirely to prevent use. An exception can be made in cases of emergencies, such as when the owner needs to go to the hospital.

Self-driving cars headed to impound or scrapyard

If a car is autonomous, it can move to another location to avoid any incident with the owner. For instance, it can leave the garage to make towing easier. Additionally, it could drive itself to the impound or any other location designated by the lender.

The last point in Ford’s patent is the icing on the cake. If repossessing a car is not profitable, the patent explicitly indicates that the vehicle can receive a command to move to the scrapyard by itself. The consequences of such an action raise many concerns, such as police chasing self-driving cars to the impound, including the risk of the system being hacked to steal cars remotely.


The concept of self-driving cars being remotely controlled is still new, and Ford’s patent has generated mixed reactions. Although some have praised the move, others fear that this feature could be misused or that it infringes on personal privacy rights. Nevertheless, Ford’s patent raises essential questions about how far the industry should go in using technology to repossess cars.