- Apr 24, 2016
Imagine you’re in your car and it suddenly starts making piercing sounds, causing you to swerve off a road and into a ditch. Or you are driving in the dark on a strange and deserted road, relying on your GPS navigator, and then your GPS stops working.
This might sound like a scene from a ‘rise of the machines’ movie, but it can become reality, if Ford’s newest patent becomes a thing. The patent lets the lender take over the car from a distance and tell it to turn features off. The makeunder could start with the car losing non-essential features like GPS and radio. Then the AC and remote key fob might go. Finally, the engine might stop and you might be locked out of the car. After that, the car can drive itself to a public road, a repossession office or go straight to a junkyard if that’s cheaper.
Ford claimed that it did not intend to use the technology after the patent application became public. That doesn’t, however, mean that they won’t use it in the future, or that other manufacturers won’t think of something similar.
Ford’s concept may sound too futuristic and even implausible at first. But in fact it is a natural progression of the trend for manufacturers to take control of vehicles away from drivers. Some carmakers are already charging owners a monthly or annual fee for extra features, and some had toyed with the idea of making basic features like a remote key fob part of a subscription. So if it’s conceivable that one day your remote key fob might stop working because you haven’t paid for it, it’s also conceivable that one day your car might drive itself away for the very same reason.
The car is fast becoming a service, and the way and the speed at which it’s happening is deeply worrying. It’s not the future we wish for.
Ford has proposed allowing the lender to remotely disable the car's features and instruct it to repossess itself if the owner does not pay. A brilliant innovation? More like a dystopian disaster.