Ford has some fascinating concepts about stuff that self-driving vehicles may quickly be capable to do. Moreover liberating us from the tedium of commuting, vehicles, as envisioned in a Ford patent utility, might repossess themselves.

In a doc not too long ago printed on the USA Patent and Trademark Workplace web site, Ford mentioned it’s contemplating a system that might permit a automotive to, by itself, go away you should you cease making your funds.

Don’t fear, although. The patent hasn’t been accepted but. And Ford insists it’s only a thought.

“We don’t have any plans to deploy this,” Ford mentioned in an announcement, stating that the corporate was granted – not simply utilized for however really granted – 1,342 patent’s final yr. That’s a mean of three.7 patents per day.

Corporations apply for patents to guard concepts from being utilized by others whether or not or not they really use the mental property themselves, defined patent legal professional Michael Messinger, a associate within the Washington DC workplace of the agency Vorys. These processes can take a very long time, mentioned Messinger, and many back-and-forth.

However possibly some components of Ford’s 14-page utility, full of concepts for getting folks to pay up, could also be extra patentable than others.

Earlier than attending to the purpose that the automotive would merely drive itself away, delinquent payers can be topic to a litany of annoyances. First, badgering messages on homeowners’ smartphones and even on the screens contained in the automotive. These messages would demand at the very least an acknowledgment or, higher but, on-the-spot fee.

If the proprietor persists in ignoring these messages, the car would, within the phrases of Ford’s patent utility, “provoke execution of a multi-step repossession process.”

The 1st step includes making the proprietor pay in different methods. Options just like the air con, cruise management, or the radio may cease working. (A few of these are already do-able in lots of automobiles.)

If that doesn’t work, the car might change into proactively irritating. The stereo could be programmed to “emit an incessant and unsightly sound each time the proprietor is current within the car,” in line with the patent.

There can be only one technique to flip off the noise, which might after all contain “….making contact with the lending establishment to deal with the fee delinquency.”

Failing that, the automotive would make itself unusable by, for starters, refusing to unlock its doorways. That is the place issues get actually difficult.

A borrower may have to drive to work to be able to earn the cash to pay again the mortgage. The automotive might be restricted to permit itself solely to be taken to work and, possibly, to purchase groceries or drop the youngsters off in school. That’s it. And all of the whereas, the driving force shall be unable to hearken to the stereo, may not have air con and might be subjected to that irritating, unstoppable noise.

Then there’s difficulty of what to do if there’s a real medical emergency. The proprietor may need a coronary heart assault, for example, which might be tragic. And, actually, a corpse with its fingers clamped stiffly across the door deal with of a locked SUV can be in no place to make a immediate remittance.

In a state of affairs like this, in line with Ford’s utility, the automotive might be enabled to drive itself to the closest emergency room and even to coordinate with emergency medical personnel to rendezvous at a location. As soon as the proprietor has been returned to well being, the automotive would return to locking them out.

Solely in probably the most excessive non-payment situation would the automotive obtain an over-the-air command to give up its proprietor. In that case, if the automotive isn’t able to totally self-driving in site visitors, it would simply transfer itself to someplace the place it’s straightforward for a tow truck to return and retrieve it. Like the sting of a road.

Generally, although, debtors who’re behind on funds will take the step of locking their automotive in a storage or inserting it someplace that makes it inconceivable to easily drive itself away. In the long run, an excellent old school human being taking the automotive again would be the solely reply.

So whereas Ford’s concept for a self-repossessing automotive may by no means be granted an precise patent, among the concepts included within the patent – a automotive that makes horrible noises should you don’t pay, for example, or that solely let’s you drive to just one or two locations – these simply could be patentable, mentioned Messinger.

It could not have been your concept of the “automotive of the long run” however, should you don’t pay up, it simply could be.

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