“The rise of AV technology presents a range of opportunities for companies interested in leveraging this technology for their own use. While there are certainly concerns about the potential for increased surveillance and control, the reality is that this technology has the potential to revolutionize the repossession process and make it more efficient and less confrontational.”
As an intellectual property consultant and inventor, I have been closely following the recent developments in autonomous vehicle (AV) technology. Ford’s recent patent application for a self-repossessing car has generated significant buzz and raised important questions about the implications of this technology on individual rights and privacy.
While the idea of an AV repossessing itself may seem like a futuristic concept, the reality is that lenders have been using “kill switches” on cars for years to lock out owners who fall behind on payments. Ford’s patent application takes this idea a step further by outlining how future car technology could disable parts of the vehicle to induce payments, such as the air conditioner, radio, or key fob. The car could also be restricted to a certain geographic area, with the owner only able to drive to a hospital or meet with an ambulance in case of emergencies. I suppose it’s encouraging that the inventors of the patent application considered the fact that a functioning vehicle can be a major factor in life-safety risk, as anyone who lived in a rural area or with an infirmity can attest. However, it drives home (pardon the pun) that a future with AVs will likely be one where cars are less a symbol of independence, and more a means of control and maintenance of law and order.
The implications of this technology are significant, as it raises questions about the balance between the interests of lenders and the rights of individual vehicle owners. It is essential that we engage in thoughtful dialogue about the potential societal implications of AV technology, and work to ensure that this technology is used in a way that prioritizes the well-being and autonomy of all individuals. The consumer finance bureau issued a statement last year warning that illegal repossessions are on the rise in the wake of the inflated car market, and the sloppy record keeping, unreliable balance inquiries, and even ransom for personal property were exacerbating the issue.
While some may view Ford’s patent application as a step too far, others see it as a natural evolution of the repossession process. The rise of AV technology presents a range of opportunities for companies interested in leveraging this technology for their own use. While there are certainly concerns about the potential for increased surveillance and control, the reality is that this technology has the potential to revolutionize the repossession process and make it more efficient and less confrontational.
As an inventor and intellectual property consultant, I see a wealth of opportunities for building on top of Ford’s patent and creating new innovations in the field of AV technology. For example, a company could develop a platform that integrates with Ford’s AVs to automate the repossession process, allowing lenders to send messages and disable parts of the vehicle with just a few clicks. This could help lenders streamline their operations and reduce the risk of confrontation during repossessions.
We should also imagine a world where a rental car is perfectly capable of returning itself to a rental hub, after confirming we are in a safe location and we have removed all our personal belongings. Technology like Ford’s patent application generates practical utility, the likes of which more people are likely to benefit from than be hurt by.
In addition, there may be opportunities for developing new technologies that enhance the security and safety of AVs. A company could build on Ford’s patent to create a system that allows an owner to remotely disable their vehicle in case of theft or unauthorized use. This could help prevent car theft and increase the peace of mind of vehicle owners.
In sum, the rise of autonomous vehicle technology presents both challenges and opportunities for innovation and commercialization. As we continue to explore the potential of this technology, it is essential that we remain mindful of the larger societal implications and work to ensure that this technology is used in a way that benefits society as a whole. By engaging in thoughtful discussions about who this technology can impact, when and where, we can create a future where AV technology is used to improve the lives of all individuals.
Written by Seth Cronin, Managing Consultant, ipCapital Group, inc.
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